Desert spider flees by turning into a wheel and rolling away - video

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Desert spider flees by turning into a wheel and rolling away - video

The Golden Wheel Spider (Carparachne aureoflava) is truly a unique and amazing creature of the beautiful Namib Desert. It builds burrows that extend 40-50cm deep into the sand dunes. The burrow generally gives it sufficient shelter from its predators and especially its archenemy: Pompilid wasps.

However, sometimes their burrow collapses and they have to build a new one, which can take a few days. The new burrows are initially not very deep and this is the time for the wasp to attack.

They go into the burrow to inspect the size of the spider. The spider can fight them off in the burrow but then the wasp begins to dig a hole towards the end of the burrow. The wasp is able to shift 10 litres of sand or up to 80,000 times its own body weight during this process.

The spider, now exposed to the wasp, has two alternatives. If it is on a steep sand dune, it makes itself into a ball and rolls down the slope with a speed of 1 m/s and about 20 rotations per second. The wasp is unable to follow the spider and the spider survives.

The other option is running. However, the wasp can fly after the spider, sting it, paralyze it and then plants an egg inside the spider. The wasp then proceeds to carry the spider into a hole, which it seals off. Now the newly hatched wasp has a lot of food when it wakes up. The wheel spider is the only known animal to use a wheeling motion to move and can be found exclusively in the Namib Desert.



wheel-spider.jpg - 5.76kb
By netchicken: posted on 16-10-2009








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