Don’t step in that bird poop! It’s alive!
This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, talking about the orb-web spider.
This arachnid evades its predators by disguising itself – indeed – as bird poop!
Picture bird poop. It's usually a splatter of white with some small blobs of dark. Gross, right?
Well, the orb-web spider is light colored with dark markings. So it weaves a thick, spiky-edged web of white silk that looks like poop splatter. Then it sits on top, its markings showing up as dark blobs. What a skilled masquerade artist!
I-Min Tso, a behavioral ecologist in Taiwan, analyzed how well the spider's disguise hides it from predatory wasps.
When Tso's team video recorded the spiders in their natural surroundings, the video showed that the wasps couldn't make out the spider amid the faux droppings.
But when the researchers colored the spider’s body or the web black? The wasps easily spotted the spiders and attacked!
Ah well. Spider or bird poop? It might make a novel Halloween costume. You’ll likely be the only one wearing it.
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