When we imagine a spider’s diet, the seemingly infinite buffet of the class Insecta is what leaps to mind. But, in a natural world full of surprises, of course, there are exceptions to the rule. Bagheera kiplingi, a species of jumping spider seemingly desperate to be unique, has ditched its carnivorous diet for a (mostly) vegetarian lifestyle.
This animal’s selected treats are “Beltian bodies”, swollen masses rich in sugars, proteins and lipids, readily available on the tips of the Acacia tree leaves that the veggie jumping spider calls home. The meals are by no means a freebie however, certain ant species have developed a symbiotic relationship with the Acacia and will fiercely defend their beltian banquet. Fortunately, Bagheera’s nimble acrobatic leaps means it mostly cares not for it’s annoying nibbly rivals.
On vegetarianism, Bagheera kiplingi sees no point to absolutism, and will happily make a snack of any ant larvae it stumbles across. Faced with harsh times these critters will go as far as cannibalising each other.
Photograph by Carol Farneti Foster © Casado Internet Group, Belize