Vampire malaria fighting

June 17, 2006

I’ve just learned that over on dailyKos, one hekabolos runs a scrumptious weekly diary called Science Spider Friday. This week, the guest of honor is the jumping spiderEvarca cilicivora, a beastie from East Africa who specializes in mammalian blood.

Now, jumping spiders are small and wouldn’t be able to break human skin with their jaws. So they can’t drink human blood directly. They ply their trade by hunting down mosquitoes, but they will smell the difference between the ones that are empty and the females that have just taken a blood meal, feeding only on the freshly engorged. As predators of the carriers of malaria, they qualify as beneficial vampires.

More detail (and pics) at the link.


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