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Spider with lasso: Deinopis madagascariensis

Madagascar is home to many strange creatures. A particularly obscure one is the Malagasy Net-casting Spider (Deinopis madagascariensis). As the name suggests, one characteristic of this spider is special: the way it catches its food. The Net-Casting Spider lets itself be suspended from a leaf or branch by a thread. Then it stretches a kind of lasso made of spinning threads between its arms. In the dark, this lasso, which is actually white, glows bluish, so that you can easily find the animals with a flashlight. If a fly or other insect touches the spinning threads, the spider throws them like a lasso over the prey with a lightning-fast movement. The lasso can stretch up to three times its size. The insect caught in the threads is then eaten at leisure.

Deinopis madagascariensis in Andasibe-Mantadia

In order for the spider to be able to throw its lasso at all, it has special eyes. The middle pair of the eight eyes are enlarged and see especially well at night. These eyes have a light-sensitive membrane that is renewed every night. The Net-Casting Spider can, therefore, see better at night than a cat! Due to its specialization, theNet-Casting Spider is only active at night. During the day it camouflages itself by pressing its body and legs flat against a branch of the same color. Hardly any human or animal will even notice it this way.

Also, the mating is very special with the Net-Casting Spider. The male spins a thread near the female and releases sperm drops on it. Then he plucks the thread again and again until the female is attracted by it. Shortly after mating, the male dies – he has fulfilled his purpose. The female Net-Casting Spider lays her eggs in a cocoon, which she carefully hides with leaves and branches. Then she leaves the cocoon and devotes herself again to her lasso and catching insects.

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