Tuesday, October 30, 2012

#inktober Bat Spider hunting and breeding behaviours

Left: Bat Spider in flight
Right: Close-up of Bat Spider head

I was thinking about different animals that were considered "Halloween-y." Spiders and bats were at the top of my list. But then I thought, how about a hybrid Bat Spider? Then I started thinking about all the possibilities and unique evolutionary traits of such a strange creature. Some of my random thoughts are recorded below:

The first recorded encounter of a Bat Spider was in a deep cave amidst the jungles of South America. The entrance was draped with spider webs, and the ground was littered with the desiccated remains of unidentifiable animal corpses. The ceiling was a writhing carpet of many thousands of spider-like creatures. The villagers were extremely shocked when the spiders lept from the ceiling and dove directly at their faces. With deadly accuracy, the spiders darted nimbly after their fleeing prey. They maneuvered through the air like hawks with the aid of spider-spun wings stretched between their legs. As soon as the first sparrow-sized spider sunk its oversized fangs into its victim, a quick and potent neurotoxin disabled his muscles and he collapsed to the ground, foaming at the mouth. He was immediately swarmed by the rest of the bat spiders and the other villagers were able to escape.

While the adult variety of the bat spider is remarkable for its hunting prowess, its behaviour while still in its larval stage of development is truly terrifying. A female bat spider will spin a thin nest on ceilings or overhanging surfaces onto which she spreads her small spider eggs, forming what looks like chocolate sprinkles on a whipped cream topping. The larvae will burst from their eggs when they sense the heat of a living creature pass by underneath. The unsuspecting animal is then assaulted in any available orifice, usually the ears, nose or mouth, but also any open wounds that they find. Death usually results from suffocation or self-inflicted head trauma trying to dislodge the nearly microscopic invaders. The flesh of the dead animal is then used as nourishment for the voracious appetite of the young bat spiders. The most horrifying aspect of this method of laying eggs is that often the mother will place her nest above the head of a sleeping animal, and the larvae will enter the body and brain cavity while it is still unconscious.

Happy Halloween!

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