What will spiders eat?

Answered by Robert Flynn

Spiders have a varied diet, and what they eat largely depends on their size and habitat. While most spiders are carnivorous and primarily feed on insects, there are some instances where spiders consume other food sources.

1. Insects: The majority of spiders are insectivores and rely on insects for their sustenance. They catch their prey by spinning intricate webs or through active hunting. Common prey includes flies, mosquitoes, moths, beetles, and other small arthropods. Spiders inject venom into their prey to immobilize them and then proceed to consume them.

2. Other spiders: In some cases, spiders may prey upon other spiders. This behavior is more commonly observed in larger spider species or when resources are scarce. Cannibalism among spiders is not uncommon, especially when the opportunity presents itself.

3. Small vertebrates: While most spiders focus on insects, there are a few larger species capable of capturing and devouring small vertebrates. Some examples include certain species of tarantulas that can prey on small lizards, birds, or mice. These instances are relatively rare and limited to specific spider species.

4. Other invertebrates: Spiders may also feed on other invertebrates such as small crustaceans, centipedes, millipedes, and even other arachnids like scorpions. These alternative food sources are typically consumed when insects are scarce or inaccessible.

5. Web consumption: Interestingly, spiders also consume their own webs. When spiders need to recycle their silk or remove old, non-functional webs, they consume the silk proteins. This process is known as web-recycling or “web-eating.” While consuming their webs, spiders inadvertently ingest anything that may be caught on the sticky strands, including pollen, tiny seeds, and fungal spores.

6. Pollen and nectar: Some studies suggest that spiders may obtain nutrition from pollen and nectar. While pollen is not a primary food source for spiders, it is believed that they consume pollen when it gets entangled in their webs. This accidental ingestion can provide them with additional nutrients, particularly calories.

7. Fungal spores and seeds: As spiders consume their webs, they may inadvertently consume fungal spores and tiny seeds that get caught on the silk. However, this can be a risky meal as certain fungal spores can be harmful or even lethal to spiders. While some studies indicate that spiders can tolerate certain fungal spores, it is essential to note that not all spiders may be immune to fungal toxins.

It is worth mentioning that the specific diet of a spider can vary depending on its species, size, and geographical location. Different spiders have adapted to different feeding strategies and prey preferences, allowing them to thrive in various ecosystems.