Now how did that happen?

On the 19th June 2022 we came across something we couldn’t really explain, but have just found a possible (if unlikely) answer to. Dangling from a bramble stem, by a single thread of silk (around 15cm long), we found a dead black ant and three green aphids, also dead. How they all ended up in this predicament we were unsure.

We do appreciate the quality of the video is not great, it was a tad windy, but you can clearly see this wasn’t your typical case of ‘spider captures prey’. The victim/s wasn’t wrapped in silk or it seems damaged in any particular way. In short it wasn’t processed. Suggesting the perpetrator was unaware of it’s success.

We were baffled and then we forgot all about it. However we just read about a species of spider called Cryptachaea riparia, which has an unusual way of setting its trap. It spins single threads from its web directly down to the ground where they are secured with a blob of gum/glue. Ants, being busy fellas, are frequent prey for this species, as whilst rummaging around if an ant accidently wanders into the gum, it becomes instantly stuck. To make matters worse the thread then snaps, and being under tension retracts, lifting the poor ant to its fate.

In all likelihood this isn’t what happened. For a start it doesn’t really explain the three dead aphids, then again we are not sure what could. Secondly this species of spider is nationally scarce. However until we can find a better explanation we will consider this an interesting possibility…

DC: 13.10.2022

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