A Spider that Fishes for Moths

Bolas Spider (Ordgarius cf. hobsoni, Araneidae) | Spider species ...

Bolas spiders belong to the genus Mastophora. They are native to the Americas, Africa and Australasia. 

What makes these spiders unusual is that they don’t create webs. Instead, the females (much larger than the tiny males) produce a strong single line of silk and place a mass of sticky goo at one end. They find a likely spot, create their line, and go what can only be described as fishing. 

Anyone knows that you catch more fish when you use good bait. These spiders create and release a scent, called a pheromone. The Bolas release a scent much like the pheromones used by some female moths to attract males, something like a perfume, that the males find incredibly attractive. 

Once the spiders release the scent, male moths come calling, expecting to find their ladies but sometimes becoming spider lunch, instead. Bolas spiders apparently can hear moth wing beats, and like other hunting spiders, have good vision.

When a moth comes near, Bolas spiders swing their line and go to try to hit the moths, and if they score a hit, it sticks to the moth. Then they reel in their line, with spider supper at the end. One species has been named dizzydeani, after the once famous American baseball pitcher, Dizzy Dean.

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