Spider Traps Prey Using Amazing Ladder Webs

Progradungula Otwayensis Spider and Ladder-Shaped Web
Newly discovered Progradungula otwayensis is a spider that makes ladder-shaped webs to catch prey in Australia’s Great Otway National Park. (Image credit: Martin J. Ramirez)

Scientists have gotten a rare glimpse of the enigmatic odd-clawed spider, which creates ladder-shaped webs in Australia's Great Otway National Park to snag unwitting prey. The eight-legged "beast," called Progradungula otwayensis, makes its home in the hollows of old myrtle trees.

After sunset, the spiders stand facing down from the odd-looking web, waiting for insects to get caught when they try to use the ladder. The spider uses a thicker, silky piece of webbing as a zip-like type connection between the external webs and the more secure tree hollow.

"On one occasion, we had access to a large hollow mountain ash tree and found catching ladders and supporting webs of juveniles inside of it," said lead study author Peter Michalik, Zoological Institute and Museum of the University of Greifswald, in a statement.

The natural history of this spider was described in September in the journal ZooKeys.

A ladder-shaped web created by the spider Progradungula otwayensis hangs in Australia’s Great Otway National Park. (Image credit: Martin J. Ramirez)

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Nina Sen
Nina Sen is a frequent contributor to Live Science’s Life’s Little Mysteries series: an exploration and explanation of our world’s phenomena, both natural and man-made. She also writes astronomy photo stories for Live Science's sister site Space.com.