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Spider Snacks: Photos of Plant-Eating Arachnids

Specialized diet

spider snacks

(Image credit: Copyright Eric J. Scully, Harvard University)

A juvenile Bagheera kiplingi spider eats a Beltian body on a bullhorn acacia in Akumal, Mexico. Beltian bodies are one of the few solid plant foods that spider digest and ingest. B. kiplingi spiders have specialized to eat almost exclusively Beltian bodies, but laboratory studies suggest they need some insect protein in order to survive, molt and grow in the long term.

Nectar drinker

spider snacks

(Image credit: Copyright David E. Hill, Peckham Society, Simpsonville, South Carolina)

A female jumping spider Maevia inclemens drinks nectar from a shrub in South Carolina. Jumping spiders can be identified by their large pair of eyes, flanked by three smaller pairs.

Upside-down eater

spider snacks

(Image credit: Copyright David E. Hill, Peckham Society, Simpsonville, South Carolina)

A male jumping spider (Hentzia mitrata) drinks nectar from a shrub nectary. Researchers aren't sure how important plant foods are to a spider's overall diet, but having diverse food options probably helps spiders to survive when insect prey is scarce, researcher Martin Nyffeler and colleagues wrote in a review in The Journal of Arachnology.

Searching for nectar

spider snacks

(Image credit: Copyright David E. Hill, Peckham Society, Simpsonville, South Carolina)

A male jumping spider (top) and a female jumping spider (bottom) eat nectar from a shrub in South Carolina. Both spiders are of the species Pelegrina galathea. Jumping spiders actively wander over plants and seek out nectaries, which are full of energy-rich, sugary liquid.

Colorful jumping spider

spider snacks

(Image credit: Copyright David E. Hill, Peckham Society, Simpsonville, South Carolina)

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.

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Stephanie Pappas
Stephanie Pappas is a contributing writer for Live Science. She covers the world of human and animal behavior, as well as paleontology and other science topics. Stephanie has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of South Carolina and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has ducked under a glacier in Switzerland and poked hot lava with a stick in Hawaii. Stephanie hails from East Tennessee, the global center for salamander diversity. Follow Stephanie on Google+.