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]
Net-casting spiders build A-shaped webs to catch prey.
These spiders live in subtropical areas, such as Costa Rica, southern Georgia and parts of Florida.
The spider species Deinopis spinosa tends to hunt at night.
Net-casting spiders eat other arthropods that are smaller than them, including ants, moths, mosquitoes and other spiders.
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
Net-casting spiders have the largest eyes of any spider.
Want a hug?
Net-casting spiders with dental silicone painted over their eyes have more trouble catching prey than able-eyed spiders do, the study found.
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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Laura is the archaeology and Life's Little Mysteries editor at Live Science. She also reports on general science, including paleontology. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Scholastic, Popular Science and Spectrum, a site on autism research. She has won multiple awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association for her reporting at a weekly newspaper near Seattle. Laura holds a bachelor's degree in English literature and psychology from Washington University in St. Louis and a master's degree in science writing from NYU.