Flesh Eating Spiders

Image from dearprudenceaberdeen.blogspot.com

Image from dearprudenceaberdeen.blogspot.com

While there are plenty of insect eating spiders out there in the world, there happen to be spiders out there made out of the stuff of nightmares.  Flesh eating spiders.  Specifically, fish, not people.  While most spiders opt for smaller prey, there are a few fish eating species out there that can eat prey twice their own size, even as they themselves are already a frightening 20 cm leg span.

Recently, scientists did a official count of fish eating arachnid species, Martin Nyffeler of the University of Basel in Switzerland and Bradley Pusey the University of Western Australia in Albany consulted biologists and scientific writings and even the internet to compile as complete a list as possible of of the eight legged meat eaters.

Found in every continent but Antarctica, the two found that the fish eating spiders are spread out across multiple families and genuses.  Most of these fish eating spiders are at least semi-aquatic and like to live near bodies of water.  Only one known spider in the world is entirely aquatic, the water spider Argyroneta aquatica.  Whether or not the spiders actually go out of their way to catch fish, or if the fish are simply unlucky enough to come across the spiders, is not very clear, but when they are caught, the fish are killed with venom, dragged someplace dry, and filled with digestive enzymes.  The fish can take from seconds to hours to die, depending on their size.  The spider’s prey often ends up being far larger than the actual spider, on average 2.2 times its size, and have been seen to catch fish up to over 4 times their weight.

While none of these spiders are of any particular threat to human beings, the thought of them can still be nightmare inducing, a spider twice the size of a person’s hand catching fish even larger than itself.

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