This spider makes fake spiders. But why?

Written by: Lisa Stelzner

Primary Source: Daily Dose of Science Blog

Did you know there are spiders called decoy spiders (genus Cyclosa) that build spider-shaped decoys in their webs that are much bigger than the actual spider? The decoys may help the spiders avoid predation or preserve their webs.  There are decoy spiders found in Peru and in the Philippines, but their designs they create are slightly different in the arrangement of the legs. Not much is known so far about these spiders and how they collect material for the decoys, but the discovery of both species poses interesting questions relating to their evolution of this behavior.

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2014/01/more-decoy-spiders-philippines/

Picture

Photo credit: Larry Reeves

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Lisa Stelzner
I'm a plant biology PhD student studying monarch butterflies in Michigan, but I'm interested in lots of other types of science, too. I am interested in how breeding monarch butterflies choose their habitat based on floral species richness and abundance. Few studies have been conducted on optimal foraging theory when it involves an organism searching for two different kinds of resources, and butterflies are an ideal study system to investigate this, since many species are ovipositing specialists and only lay eggs on one species of hostplant, but are feeding generalists and nectar from a broad variety of flowering forbs.