Bat-eating spiders: Bat death traps on all continents but one

March 17, 2013 | 12:33 p.m.
A Tennessee second-grader cradles a tarantula. This type of spider has been known to eat bats. A new study shows incidences of spiders devouring bats may be greater than previously thought. (Kyle Kurlick / The Commercial Appeal/Associated Press)

A Tennessee second-grader cradles a tarantula. This type of spider has been known to eat bats. A new study shows incidences of spiders devouring bats may be greater than previously thought. (Kyle Kurlick / Commercial Appeal)

Bat-eating spiders are virtually everywhere, a new study has found. The only place bats are safe from these grasping arachnids is Antarctica.

And bats don’t live in Antarctica.

It’s enough to make you feel sorry for bats.  The study, published last week in the journal Plos One, says: “Incidences of bats being captured by spiders have been reported from virtually every continent with the exception of Antarctica.”

Reports include bats being hunted down and captured by tarantulas and other hunting spiders. Otherwise, crafty arachnids have built their webs where the bats will become entangled — and then become lunch.

“The dominant group of bat-catching spiders are giant orb-weavers of the genus Nephila,” the report states. These forest-dwelling spiders have a leg span of 4 to 6 inches and can weigh as much as 7 grams. “Feeding was found to be most intense in the time between sundown and midnight.”

The female spiders have been known to join together, building several connecting webs for a  bat death trap “of many square meters.”

Perhaps it’s only fair.  Bats have few natural enemies.  The spiders help keep the balance.  With help from a giant centipede that eats bats.

Here are a couple of other creatures to give you the heebie jeebies.

– An ancient shark-like animal with serrated teeth that spiraled around each other, for a bite like a buzz saw.  And perhaps more terrifying because it lives today: the lamprey, an eel-like creature with rows of jagged teeth.

– The pythons of the Florida Everglades.  The giant constricting snakes are wiping out the mammals of south Florida.

Those spiders don’t seem so scary anymore.

– Amy Hubbard

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Comments


22 Responses to Bat-eating spiders: Bat death traps on all continents but one

  1. ol' greg says:

    A nine legged spider, eh?

    • Oven says:

      The leg on the far side of he tarantula is not a leg but actually a arm type appendage. most tarantulas have them and they use them for eating.
      If this is a wild caught spider than it most likely had a problem shedding and he other one lost circulation, died and fell off.

  2. what_I_See says:

    Lol. Who wants to be next touching the tarantula?

  3. Michael Mann says:

    Bats don't need to worry about spiders, in a few decades bats and many migratory birds will be endangered species due to windmills. The environmental cult is killing them with their so called green energy lunacy.

  4. Lanza-Castillo says:

    You need a proof-reader. The caption includes this: "…new study shows incidences of spiders…."

    The correct word is "incidents," not "incidences."

  5. Lanza-Castillo says:

    You need a proof-reader. The caption includes this: "…new study shows incidences of spiders…." And in the text, it reads, "Incidences of bats being captured by spiders …"

    The correct word is "incidents," not "incidences."

  6. aaa says:

    In tel aviv they seem safe enough :-)

  7. Tomo of Qaf says:

    Don't use "incidences" unless you mean a ratio. "instances" meaning examples is
    the word you want.

  8. Frank says:

    Yup…those hands really look like the belong to a 7 year old kid.

  9. Geoff says:

    The pythons of the Florida Everglades are a real problem. I have seen a video of a 2- or 3-hour battle between an alligator and a python that ended when the alligator gave up its territory. It must be a hellish existence for those few mammals that survive.

    Maybe we should be making wallets and purses out of python skin and dog food out of python meat.

  10. john says:

    bats are useful beneficial creatures.Spiders serve no purpose so i am behind the bats all the way. I say we outfit the bats with some sort of web detector device to show our solidarity. Go BATS Go!

  11. dWj says:

    :"Incidences…" really? I believe the writer should have used incidents as the plural of incident. Just because the pretty faces on TV say "incidences" all the time to indicate a plural of incident does not make it so. Are there no literate journalists left?

  12. Craig says:

    Don't worry! The next Japanese monster flick, Mega-Bat vs. Gigarachnos, will set things right!

  13. Fenway27 says:

    I have a Mexican Red Knee tarantula, Paddy who is 8 years old and she is way bigger than that tarantula. I let her out in the backyard to get exercise and sun. I don't understand the fear of spiders.

  14. Irritated says:

    Incidents vs incidences, a common error!

  15. Jason says:

    Nine legged spider? This must be in Oak Ridge.

  16. action...cut says:

    Poor acting job by a 7th grader in L.A?

  17. Where's Integrity says:

    yep, my second grader always hands like a 30 year old. Especially like the dirt under the nails.

  18. metric says:

    wow measurements were in both metric and imperial @@

  19. Mohan says:

    Pythons of South Florida? They can be eliminated completely from Florida or any where in the world if the Price Is Right.

  20. Lanza-Castillo says:

    The author of this article needs a proofreader, or at least a refresher course in high school English.

    The caption includes this: "…new study shows incidences of spiders…." And in the article itself, we read this: "…Incidences of bats being captured by spiders have been reported…."

    The correct word is "incidents," not "incidences."

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