How Fast Can Spiders Eat Ants?
In North America, there are more than three hundred species of spiders. However, only a fraction of those spiders actively hunt for ants. The others simply build webs to catch their prey.
Most spiders are not very fast when it comes to eating. They may only need to liquefy a single insect every couple of weeks. This is enough to keep the body nourished.
However, some spiders have evolved to mimic the actions of ants. This allows the spider to gain a tasty snack. There are over 300 species of spiders that can do this.
Some spiders are even able to mimic the behavior of weaver ants. These spiders use a chemical communication system to convince the ants that they are part of a colony.
The Euryopis umbilicata spider is a famous “ant-slayer.” These spiders do Cirque du Soleil-style acrobatics in order to catch and kill ants.
Another spider species, the Zodarion rubidium, also mimics the behavior of ants. Instead of consuming the entire ant, the spider eats the front end of the ant, which is packed with protein.
It turns out that the spiders that ate the front parts of the ants grew faster and stronger. In addition, they lived longer. Compared to the spiders that ate the gasters, the front-end eaters lived twice as long.
One study found that Zodarion species can overcome ants by injecting powerful venom into the ants. While this technique requires large amounts of venom, it also minimizes injury to the spider.