I think I once saw a video of a caterpillar that could get infected by a parasite, and could die of that, unless a specific kind of spider would eat the parasite, and so once the caterpillar is infected it goes looking for that spider. I can't find that video anymore though, nor any reference on this, so I'm beginning to doubt myself. Does this behaviour really exist?


Oddly enough it is a bit difficult to find good field studies where the diet of spiders was studied. I have a feeling it's a hard thing to get funding for. Luckily some do exist.

Peucetia viridans has been shown to eat from the Chrysididae family and Lepidoptera order, but I didn't find an explicit statement that it ate the larvae out of the caterpillar. Likewise Oxyopes globifer was found to have eaten from the Braconidae family and Lepidotera.

At this point you might be wondering why I'm looking for spiders that have been shown to eat both parasitoids (Chrysididae and Braconidae) and caterpillars (Lepidotera). It my assumption that in the scenario you describe a spider that would normal eat ether the caterpillar or the larvae would be just as happy to eat them both if it was lucky enough to find them.

I could find one example where it seems wolf spiders under the right conditions might seek out larvae, and I found a fun photo of a wolf spider eating larvae (though not the kind in the study).

I never saw the video you were talking about, and I too could not find it. It is not unreasonable to assume that an opportunistic spider wouldn't just take the opportunity to feed on both, or that it might find the larvae more tasty and just eat them. I've not found a spider seeking caterpillar as of yet.

  • $\begingroup$ That's no fun photo! Thanks for the search. Actually the way I remember it it was actually even more crazy than the spider looking for the caterpillar; it was the caterpillar looking for the spider. It was a rather small spider, couldn't eat the caterpillar, but the larvae was a good meal. $\endgroup$ – Jasper Kennis Nov 18 '13 at 11:14
  • $\begingroup$ @JasperKennis Again I would be very interested if someone could pull that up. Under the right pressure I could imagine such behavior evolving, but I am unaware and couldn't find an instance where it is true. It might be worth noting that plenty of insects/spiders eat pray that are larger than they are. $\endgroup$ – Atl LED Nov 18 '13 at 16:57

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.