Photos: What Big Eyes! Spider's Huge Peepers Help Snag Prey

Spiders

Want a hug?

(Image credit: Jay Stafstrom)

Net-casting spiders have the largest eyes of any spider on Earth. But only two of their eyes are enormous; the other six are small and have diminished vision. To get a better idea of how these spiders use their gigantic eyes, researchers painted temporary coverings over the spiders' eyes, and watched the arachnids catch prey.

As it turns out, these large eyes are crucial in helping the spider to hunt at night (when there is less light) and to catch prey that walks by the arachnid's web.[Read the Full Story on These Big-Eyed Spiders]

Web-ready

Web ready

(Image credit: Jay Stafstrom)

Net-casting spiders build A-shaped webs to catch prey.

Subtropical living

Sub-tropical living

(Image credit: Jay Stafstrom)

These spiders live in subtropical areas, such as Costa Rica, southern Georgia and parts of Florida.

Nighttime hunters

Nighttime hunters

(Image credit: Jay Stafstrom)

The spider species Deinopis spinosa tends to hunt at night.

Dinnertime

Dinnertime

(Image credit: Jay Stafstrom)

Net-casting spiders eat other arthropods that are smaller than them, including ants, moths, mosquitoes and other spiders.

Palm-tree trap

Palm-tree trap

(Image credit: Jay Stafstrom)

In Florida, Deinopis spinosa spiders tend to build webs on palm trees. "During the day, they [the spiders] look like sticks, and at night they come out and do all of this cool behavior," said study lead researcher Jay Stafstrom, a doctoral student of biological sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Lost in its eyes

Lost in its eyes

(Image credit: Jay Stafstrom)

Net-casting spiders have the largest eyes of any spider.

Want a hug?

Want a hug?

(Image credit: Jay Stafstrom)

Net-casting spiders with dental silicone painted over their eyes have more trouble catching prey than able-eyed spiders do, the study found.

An eyeful

An eyeful

(Image credit: Jay Stafstrom)

The net-casting spider's large eyes also help it hunt at night, during low-vision situations. This likely helps it avoid predators that hunt during the day, such as birds, the researchers said.

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