Spiders may be one of the most commonly feared animals on the planet by humans, but for plenty of other animals, they are high up on their lists of favorite meals.
Due to their small size, spiders are often viewed as easy prey for a lot of bigger animals and they struggle to survive in certain ecosystems. They do come equipped with several defense mechanisms that can make them a little bit harder to catch but a lot of their predators have also adapted to find a way around these defenses.
Spiders have a wide variety of predators both big and small, so let’s take a look at some of their most common ones.
Seven Predators of Spiders
Monkeys may not pose the biggest threat to the world’s spider population but they have been known to eat spiders if they encounter them.
This tends to only really happy in more tropical climates. It does, however, commonly happen when monkeys are cleaning one another and they tend to eat any insects or bugs that they find on their cleaning mate.
In various parts of the world, lizards have actually been used to keep the populations of certain types of spiders under control.
Chameleons and Geckos are two of the most common types of lizards that regularly feature spiders and other small insects as parts of their diets. This predator of spiders can be particularly effective at eating spiders and there have been instances of them being introduced into eco-systems in order to control the spider population.
One of the most active predators of spiders in the animal kingdom is birds. The types of birds that a spider needs to watch out for are insectivores. There are many birds that fall into this category and even the smaller ones like robins and blue-tits have been known to eat spiders and feed them to their young.
In fact, in Europe, blue-tits are one of the most active predators of spiders and are likely to feed them to their young instead of other insects. This is believed to be because of the high levels of Taurine, a useful amino acid, that is found in spiders.
Birds have excellent vision, which makes it extremely difficult for spiders to hide or defend themselves against them. While it is possible for some of the bigger spiders to catch smaller birds in their webs, it is very rare that they will be able to kill or eat them.
Surprisingly, one of the biggest predators of spiders is other spiders. It is well known that some spiders will kill and eat their partner as part of their mating process. The redback and orb-web female spiders are the ones most likely to eat their male partners after mating with them.
Spiders may also prey on other different species of spiders. For example, the fairly harmless Daddy Long Legs Spider has been known to eat the deadly and threatening Black Widow spider.
Interestingly, one of the most dangerous predators of spiders is another animal that a lot of humans tend to have a fear of – wasps. There are several species of wasps that will paralyze, kill, and then eat spiders.
The tarantula hawk, despite its misleading name, is a type of wasp that will paralyze and then eat tarantulas. It will knock on a web to attract the animal’s attention and then sting it, causing instant paralysis. This will then lead to the wasp dragging the tarantula away and feeding it to its children.
The spider-wasp is the larger species that the tarantula wasp belongs to. Their techniques are very similar but it is always the female spider wasp which will do the hunting and killing. Like the tarantula hawk, they will lure a spider out of hiding before stinging it and paralyzing it. They will then carry it or drag it back to their young and feed it to them.
Calymmochilus dispar and Gelis apterus are two other types of wasps who are particularly threatening to spiders. They are parasitic animals, which means that once they have stung and paralyzed the spider, they lay an egg inside it. This provides the newborn with a fresh spider to feed on as it comes into the world. These two types of wasps were only discovered in Portugal in 2013.
While it is not common practice for humans to eat spiders for food, we are still among the animal’s most dangerous predators, whether we intend to be or not. A lot of humans may be scared of spiders and will, therefore, attempt to kill any that they find in their environment.
Some spiders are also viewed as being exotic and will be captured by humans and used as pets. In some parts of the world, spiders are also fried and served as street food, though, this is not a common practice.
Humans may also inadvertently affect the spider population by killing some of the animals that spiders would use to live on themselves.
Several types of amphibians, most notably frogs and toads are known to be predators to types of spiders when presented with the opportunity.
Frogs are carnivores and in general, they are not particularly choosy when it comes to what kind of food they eat. They will eat a variety of different animals, which means that if a spider finds its way into a frog’s territory, then it will have no problems snapping it up and eating it.
Spiders tend to be eaten specifically by younger frogs and toads and are said to help boost their growth.
Frogs and toads also tend to be quicker than spiders and therefore they will even manage to eat some of the more venomous spiders that can be found in the wild. That being said, there are some spiders who are big enough to catch some frogs in their webs and eat them.
As the above list demonstrates, spiders face a wide range of different threats in the wild and must continuously adapt to avoid being eaten by all of different predators. I hope that this article on predators of spiders was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Animal Facts Page!