Spiders are known as cunning predators, but a new review in the Journal of Arachnology finds that many round out their diets with a side of vegetables. There are at least 95 reports of spiders eating plant matter, from nectar to sap to pollen, University of Basel lecturer Martin Nyffeler and colleagues reported in the paper.
One spider, a jumping spider species called Bagheera kiplingi, has a mostly herbivorous diet. Seen here, a female feeds on the fatty, protein-rich Beltian bodies of the acacia plant. These structures are part of the plant's strategy to attract ants, which protect the plants against herbivores. But spiders have found a way to muscle in on the free food, too.
(These photos are from Martin Nyffeler's article "Phytophagy in jumping spiders: The vegetarian side of a group of insectivorous predators" http://peckhamia.com/peckhamia/PECKHAMIA_137.1.pdf)
Competition for food
Waiting for a turn
Sipping something sweet
Searching for nectar
Colorful jumping spider
A Sassacus papenhoei jumping spider with a jewel-like abdomen feeds on nectar in South Carolina. Jumping spiders represent about 60 percent of reported incidents of plant-eating, but other groups such as nocturnal running spiders have been seen feeding on plant products, too. More study is needed to understand how spiders incorporate plants in their diet, researchers wrote in The Journal of Arachnology.