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13 Natural Predators That Eat Spiders

Spiders might be one of the most feared insects for humans, but a spider is on the menu for several predators in the animal world.

The predators of spiders come in different shapes and sizes and use different methods to catch their prey.

Spiders are relatively smaller than most of its predators, making them easy prey. Spiders might have developed some defense mechanisms, but the predators have also adapted accordingly.

There are certain predators such as the spider wasps or tarantula hawks that have been named after their preference and ability to hunt and eat spiders.

Here is a list of the top predators that eat spiders.

This list is in no particular order.

Ants

Most types of ants are voracious and opportunistic predators. That means they are always searching for food and are ready to eat significant amounts of food.

They are not too picky about their choice of food. The aggressive nature of the ants allows them to have a wide choice of prey and a diverse diet. Some of the most specialized ant predators, such as the fire ants, are famous for their painful sting.

Some farmers even use a certain type of ants to protect their crops from pests.

Some ants prefer decaying or dead spiders, while others look to prey on live spiders. Pharaoh ants would eat anything, including spiders. Sugar ants often look for sweet food, and spiders are not their preference.

Thief ants, also known as grease ants, look for protein, and spiders would be rank high on their choice of food.

Ants are foragers by nature. They like to work in teams, often establishing a trail to the prey, where the entire colony of ants gets to taste the meal.

In an interesting relationship between the spider and ant, certain types of ants are on the menu list for spiders. These are mostly smaller ants that get caught in the web of the spider.

Birds

Birds are equipped with excellent eyesight to spot spiders. Their aerial ability also gives them the advantage of a surprise attack on the spider.

The type of birds that eat spiders are insectivores, such as bluebirds, swallows, nighthawks, flycatchers, and more. Spiders are an excellent source of protein for birds.

They are also a source of food for the young birds that depend on their parents for food. Birds that eat spiders do not need to have an exclusive insect diet, but insects make a major portion of their diet.

Birds also change their diets throughout the year; they are most likely to hunt spiders during breeding season when they need more energy. 

Different types of birds have developed their methods of catching a spider. Some birds would glean spiders from trees; others might hover around the ground for an opportunity to snatch a spider.

One reason the spider is a favorite meal for birds is because of the high content of taurine found in them. Taurine is an essential amino acid that helps in development and growth.

It can be extremely useful for the young ones of the bird.

Centipedes

Most centipedes are nocturnal creatures that roam around during the night looking for prey. They are repulsive by nature, but they need food to survive.

Spiders are often on the top of the list of prey for centipedes. Spiders are often founding roaming on the ground. The method used by centipedes to catch and eat spiders is to pounce on them, use their legs to kill the spider, and then use their front legs to hold and eat the spider.

Most types of centipedes have venom, which they inject through their legs.  The claws on their legs are not able to penetrate human skin, but they easily puncture a spider. A centipede can hold three of four victims at the same time.

Centipedes have been given a grooming kit by nature. After eating a spider or other prey, the centipede goes on about cleaning itself. They have a small groove type structure near the mouth.

It has small hair which is used for cleaning purposes. The centipede uses the groove to clean its legs and antennae by passing it through the groove. It is very meticulous about this process and cleans one part at a time.

If it is interrupted for some reason, it resumes the grooming session from where it left off. 

Fish

You might have heard of large spiders that eat freshwater fish. However, for smaller spiders they can often fall prey to fish.

This mostly happens when the spider falls into water that has fish, which are quick to pounce on the opportunity for a quick meal. The spider doesn’t have a chance once it has fallen in the water, as most spiders cannot propel their body in water, although they can float on water.

There are water spiders that live in water and are excellent swimmers.

They are also hunted by fish. Fish are not too choosy about food; many insects and bugs are on the menu for fish. The most common type of fish that eat spiders include archers, mosquitofish, and trout.

Humans

Humans are one of the most dangerous predators for many insects, including spiders.  

Spiders use noise and vibration to stay clear of danger. Humans make plenty of noise and vibration, so a spider does try to stay away, but at times, they cross paths.

Many people fear spiders, but some don’t mind eating a spider. Some spiders are an exotic delicacy, and in certain parts of the world, they are often part of street food.

The fried spider is a common snack in China and South East Asia. The fired spider is a popular dish in Cambodia and is part of common street food.

They also add spiders to rice wine to make a medicinal liquor in Cambodia. In these regions, spiders have been on the menu for hundreds of years.

People fond of the fried spider like the white meat found in the head and body. The abdomen of the spider is considered a delicacy by some, while others try to avoid it.

In Mexico, large spiders such as tarantulas are offered in tacos, but the Mexican government has cracked down on this practice and banned the sale of tarantulas for human consumption. 

Lizards

There are different types of lizards in the world. They are mostly insectivorous creatures and are agile predators.

They can quickly go from being still to pouncing on the prey. Similar to snakes, lizards use their tongue to scent particles in the air. Specialized sensory cells on the top of their mouth allow them to find food such as spiders.

These same sensory glands help them detect danger or find a mate.  Lizards such as geckos and chameleons often feed on spiders.

In a study by the University of California, lizards were found to be very voracious towards spiders. Scientists had introduced lizards to a few Bahama Islands to reduce the population of non-native spiders.

Within five years, the lizards had completely eradicated the population of the orb spiders on the islands. The diet of lizards helps keep the population of spiders and other insects under control.

Certain types of spiders are venomous. They can be fatal if eaten. For example, black widow spiders have toxins that can be dangerous for the lizards.

Larger lizards might only feel mild symptoms such as an upset stomach, but smaller lizards might not survive.

Monkeys

Several species of monkeys enjoy eating spiders. Monkeys are mostly omnivorous animals. That means they mostly look for the meat of plant-based food, but they can eat anything from flowers to spiders.

For smaller monkeys, spiders are an excellent source of meat. There are also caused by incidental eating where small spiders crawl into the nose or ears of monkeys.

The meat in spider is considered to be white meat, similar to meat from a frog or chicken. The legs have little meat, but the body or the head can be a substantial source of protein for monkeys.

For the most venomous spider, the acid in the stomach kills any venom.

Other spiders

Yes, certain spiders do eat on their kind. There is a benefit of this to humans, as it is mostly the non-threatening species of spiders that eat on venomous spiders.

Spiders are not frequent eaters and go without days eating nothing. The diet of spider depends on the type of spider. For example, a web-building spider mostly eats insects that get stuck in their web.

Hunting spiders can camouflage themselves and pounce on grasshoppers, crickets, etc. Larger species such as the huntsman spider can feed on frogs and lizards.

Typically, it is the larger species of spiders that eat smaller spider species. It is not common for spiders to each from the same species, although there are extreme situations such as an acute shortage of food, where a spider might eat other spiders.

There is a common myth that female black widow spiders kill and eat their mates after intercourse.

This is not entirely false, but it happens very rarely. Scientists are yet to establish conclusive reason as to why this happens.

For non-reproductive cannibalism, it is often the case of aggression that leads to killing or eating of the other spider.

Scorpions

Scorpions have a diverse diet and can eat insects, spiders, and lizards. They can go without food for many weeks but need water to survive.

Scorpions use their pincers to capture the prey and their stingers to inject venom into the prey. The venom of the prey is neurotoxic, which paralyzes the victim.

They are not picky eaters and will look to eat most types of spiders if they can catch and kill them. Some larger spiders are immune to scorpion venom and might not be easy to subdue and kill them.

For smaller spiders, the damage from the sting itself might be enough to kill the spider, regardless of the immunity from the venom.

Scorpions only ingest liquids, so when they eat spiders, they dispose of any solid matter using a claw-like structure in their mouth called chelicerae.

Scorpions use the digestive juices in their stomach to dissolve all tissue of the spider before ingesting the liquid. They have a small mouth, so only liquid can be sucked in.

They take their time to eat, often taking hours to finish their meal. A larger spider might take several hours to be eaten by a scorpion.

Another reason the scorpion abandons solid parts is that it doesn’t want to waste any energy is trying to digest solid food.

A scorpion is designed for efficient metabolism, often turning it faster or slower according to its need.

Spider wasps

Wasps are solitary creatures by nature. Their natural tendency is to live alone and be self-reliant. They are not aggressive and do not form any colonies.

They can show some aggression if their young or burrow is threatened. Spider wasps have earned their name because of their practice of hunting and eating spiders.

Spider wasps mostly feed the hunted spiders to their offspring. The primary diet of adult spider wasps is plant nectar. The offspring’s survival depends entirely on the food brought to the burrow by their parents.

This need to gather food for their offspring has made spider wasps develop into efficient hunters of spiders.

Spider wasps are easily recognized by their orange wings and bands on the abdomen. They are considered to be a moderate size wasp.

Their primary choice of spiders is the huntsman spider, which has more nutrition as a meal compared to other smaller spiders. Spider wasps hunt for spiders in soil, bark, or crevices.

They have a painful sting, which might not be harmful to humans, but it can be deadly for spiders. They keep stinging the spider until the spider is paralyzed, after which they drag the spider to their burrow.

Spider wasps often live near regions that have a high population of spiders.

Tarantula hawks

A tarantula hawk is like a spider wasp. As the name suggests, the primary difference is that a tarantula hawk preys on a particular kind of spider, the tarantula.

The tarantula wasp is the largest of the parasitoid wasp. They can grow up to 2 inches long. Similar to the spider wasp, the tarantula hawk paralyzes their prey and drag their prey to its nest, where their larvae can eat the still-living spider.

The larvae take about a month to fully eat the spider. The spiders are mostly for their offspring, which require the protein for growth and development. The tarantula hawk can survive on nectar from plants.

The sting of the tarantula hawk is known to be extremely painful. They mostly sting when looking to hunt food but can also turn aggressive if they feel threatened.

The sting is about 1/3 inch long and injects such a powerful venom that it can paralyze a spider twice the size of the tarantula hawk. The wasp flies low to the ground, looking for spiders to hunt.

The tarantula is a formidable creature, and to kill them, the tarantula hawk has developed skills that allow them to sting the tarantula multiple times in an attempt to paralyze it.

If the hunting maneuver goes wrong, the tarantula has the ability to crush the tarantula hawk.

Ticks

Ticks feed on the blood of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and insects. Ticks are related to spiders as they both belong to the arachnid category.

They look very similar to a spider with four pairs of legs and no antenna. A tick is not able to jump, run, or fly, so they rely on waiting for the prey before waiting to climb on their prey.

This type of hunting technique is known as “questing.” They use their front pair of legs to climb on to the prey. Spiders are common prey, although the diet of a tick is diverse, and they can feed on a variety of prey.

Ticks can go do days without eating, so their hunting strategy is heavily reliant on stealth and patience.

They might not be the fastest or most agile predator, but they are built to withstand extreme conditions such as freezing temperatures.

Toads

Toads are not picky eaters. They are mostly ready for anything they can fit in their mouth and able to swallow down. They prefer live prey and meat. Common items on the menu for a toad include spiders, flies, worms, snails, and more.

The larger sized toads have the biggest list of prey. Spiders and toads often cross paths in common habitats. Toads are ambush predators; they hide and wait for prey to come close before they use their tongue to snatch up the prey. 

Toads rely on the movement of prey for them to detect it. Toads swallow their prey as toads don’t have proper teeth to chew the prey. They have very tiny upper jaw teeth.

The purpose of the teeth is to hold down prey until they can swallow the prey. They have very acid gastrointestinal juices that can help them digest prey.

This is also the reason why toads prefer to eat invertebrates as they are easier to swallow and digest for the toad.