Scared of spiders? Well, you’re not the only one. It turns out some spiders are arachnophobes too.
A new study published in the British Ecological Society’s journal Functional Ecology found that a species of jumping spider has developed a fear of larger species that prey on them.
Researchers chose to test jumping spiders because of their superb vision. In addition, larger jumping spiders prey on smaller ones. They tested small zebra jumping spiders Salticus scenicus to see if they could recognize predators.
Researchers conducted an experiment where jumping spiders were presented with different objects. The first of which was a 3D printed sphere. When faced with the sphere, the jumping spiders had no fear response and even climbed on the object. However, when researchers put eyes on the sphere, the spiders displayed a “freeze and retreat” behaviour. That behaviour was repeated as researchers put deceased specimens in front of the spiders.
🕷️🕷️🕷️It’s here! Right in time for #Arachtober! Our “Arachno-Arachnophobia” study is now out in @FunEcology (as accepted article)! Static visual predator recognition in jumping spiders. 🕷️🕷️🕷️ https://t.co/ECXC9rsneD
A 🧵 1/8: pic.twitter.com/Io7GG2bxjS
— Dr. Daniela Rößler 🌎 (@RoesslerDaniela) October 22, 2021
To test whether the behaviour was learned or innate, researchers tested spiderlings and found they demonstrated the same fear response.
The most important factor in triggering the fear response was whether the test object had eyes or not. Researchers also found that the spiders had a greater fear response of the spiders that looked more like them than others.
So if you’re afraid of spiders, the best way to keep them away from your home might just be those Halloween spider decorations.
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