The land of Anansi
Nearly half the world’s spider families live in T&T
Did you know that Trinidad and Tobago is home to nearly half of the world’s spider families—Anansi excluded? Did you know that spiders make an enormous contribution to agriculture? Read about it here, where Jo-Anne Sewlal, from the Dept of Life Sciences at UWI St. Augustine takes us into the fascinating world of spiders.
Jo-Anne’s cover photo, taken in Tobago, shows a member of the spider family Thomisidae, commonly referred to as Crab spiders. (Strange how easy it is to associate Tobago with crabs, even spiders get drawn into that web!)
They get this name from the size and length of their first two pairs of legs which are much longer and thicker than the other two pairs and are held forward in a crab-like position. They are active hunters, particularly wandering on plants, so they do not use the silk they produce to construct webs to catch prey. Thomisid spiders rely on camouflage to ambush their prey, with some individuals blending in with the petals of flowers, leaves and bark, with some members even mimicking bird droppings. Those that hide on the petals of flowers, ambush the pollinators that visit it, for example, bees, while they themselves act as pollinators as they move from flower to flower transferring the pollen that has rubbed on their bodies. They are capable of taking down prey much larger than themselves, like the bees. However, they also supplement their diet of insects with nectar.