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Bagheera Kiplingi - Vegetarian Spiders?
When you think of a spider, it's generally not pleasant. Shriveled and desiccated remains of insect husks, half sucked dry by the mandibles of some ravenous monster. Long silken strands ready to ensnare any unfortunate bug without wide eyes and careful feet. The thought of being stuck in a web makes any of us pray...
And it just so turns out there may actually be a god, for insects at least. A spider has recently been discovered with a bit more mercy in it's heart then you might expect. A strict Buddhist avoids meat and so does this little guy, the vegetarian spider, Bagheera Kiplingi. Haunting the acacia trees and plants this spider leads a life not many would suspect, given everyone's common knowledge of spider facts.
The Bagheera differs from other spiders in that it has a very unique diet. It eats plants. The acacia plant to be exact. (Also known as thorntrees or wattles) The acacia plant makes an ideal food supply because of the way it interacts with it's environment. Whereas most plants have chemical defenses to protect them from predators, the acacia plant relies on several species of Pseudomyrmex ants to protect them. These ants perform beneficial functions by killing other nearby invasive plants and any would-be predators that come to feed on the Acacia. In return, the plant provides them with shelter in the form of several domatia. Tiny chambers formed by the plant that are spacious enough to house arthropods. Using these chambers the ants and Bagheera can live comfortably.
The ants are the rulers of this kingdom and everyone else is well aware. The Bagheera Kiplingi lives on the older leaves of the plants where food is much scarcer and the ants don't patrol as often. This protects and hides them from the Pseudomyrmex ants. The Bagheera also may live together in groups unlike other spiders, another trait that offers them a greater chance of fending off any ants.
The ants and Bagheera spider feed on sap from the plant and Beltian pods. (Named after Thomas Belt) As you can imagine, this puts the Bagheera in a dangerous spot when it wants to feed. The ants are not willing to share their food source with anything else. If the ants get a hold of our little Bagheera spider it is lights out.
Fortunately the Bagheera spiders are crafty. Because they are jumping spiders they don't build webs, instead they possess a body made for scurrying coupled with excellent eyesight. They'll watch all of the ants as they forage and scavenge on the Acacia leaves. Ever so patient, the Bagheera waits until there is an opening. When there is not a single one of those pesky ants about they leap out and attack! Scurrying from safety and rushing to the tip of the Acacia plant as fast as they can the Bagheera is after one thing, a Beltian Pod. The Bagheera Kiplingi will nip off a Beltian pod and quickly retreat back to safety to eat in peace.
Sexing Bagheera Kiplingi
Bagheera kiplingi is a colorful species, with the two sexes looking very different. The male has amber legs, a dark cephalothorax that is greenish in the upper region near the front, and a slender reddish abdomen with green transversal lines.
The female's amber front legs are sturdier than other slender legs, which are light yellow. It has a reddish brown cephalothorax with the top region near the front black. The female's rather large abdomen is light brown with dark brown and greenish markings.
Spider Facts and Information - Spiderworlds.com
If you have any cool videos of these little guys please share!
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