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article imageSpiders enjoy a side dish of pollen with the flies

By Tim Sandle     Dec 20, 2013 in Environment
Exeter - Some spiders are not the pure predators most biologists generally believe. A study has found that some make up a quarter of their diet by eating pollen.
An illuminating research study has revealed that orb web spiders (like the common garden variety,) choose to eat pollen even when insects are available. This comes about as spider webs can also trap aerial plankton like pollen and fungal spores, as well as insects.
Orb web spiders take their common name is taken from the round shape of this typical web. Orb-weaving spiders are three-clawed builders of flat webs with sticky spiral capture silk. Many orb-weavers build a new web each day. Most orb-weavers tend to be active during the evening hours; they hide for most of the day.
In fact the research revealed that 25 per cent of the spiders' food intake was made up of pollen, with the remaining 75 per cent consisting of flying insects. This turns an "established fact" on its head: that spiders are pure carnivores. Instead, spiders should be classified as omnivores rather than carnivores.
The research was conducted at the University of Exeter, U.K. The findings have been published in the journal PLoS One in a paper titled “Herbivory in Spiders: The Importance of Pollen for Orb-Weavers.”
More about Spiders, Pollen, Flies, webs, orb spiders
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