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Surprising Science

Bloody Minded

Spiders find a bloodsucking-by-proxy diet sexy—and it helps control malaria, new research finds.

“Jumping spiders apparently use blood as a perfume to attract the opposite sex,” writes “The jumping spider Evarcha culicivora, which dwells near Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa, hungers after mosquitoes engorged with blood. Scientists have even found this 5-millimeter-long spider prefers hunting bloodsuckers infested with the deadly malaria parasite, suggesting these predators could help control the lethal disease. In dining on bloodsuckers, the jumping spiders — so named because they can leap some 40 times their own body length, which for a 6-foot-tall human would mean 240 feet — are in a roundabout way feeding on blood. It now turns out this vampire-by-proxy diet is sexy for the arachnids.”


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