Spiny Spiders Use Colors to Lure Lunch

And besides that, the spiny spider is a very tricky chap indeed. Although they are found all over the world, they differ in colors and patterns, so the yellow-striped spiders Hauber studied in Australia are very different in appearance from other spiny spiders.

"They come in such variations that the insects can't learn what the spiders look like," he says. "From the same mother you could have different looking progeny coming out, so there isn't a clear phenotype where you could say this is what a spiny spider looks like, so avoid it."

That gives the spiny spider a leg up on most other spiders. Most spiders build their webs near lights, and use the lights to attract prey. It's sort of a passive-aggressive system.

But the spiny spider of northern Australia, and possibly elsewhere, doesn't have to do that.

"It's got it's own attracting device," Hauber says.

It's a jungle out there.

Lee Dye’s column appears weekly on ABCNEWS.com. A former science writer for the Los Angeles Times, he now lives in Juneau, Alaska.

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