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Tue Apr 16, 2019, 01:52 AM

Hold the mustard: What makes spiders fussy eaters


April 15, 2019

It might be one of nature's most agile and calculating hunters, but the wolf spider won't harm an insect that literally leaves a bad taste in its mouth, according to new research by a team of Wake Forest University sensory neuroscientists, including C.J. Saunders.

Saunders presents the team's findings this week at the Association for Chemoreception Sciences (AChemS) annual meeting in Bonita Springs, Fla.

Scientists have known for some time that certain insects produce chemicals that irritate the mouth or skin of the mammals or birds that try to eat them - but they didn't know if those insects caused the same reaction in spiders.

So Saunders and his colleagues painted the legs of wolf spiders with one of three common chemical irritants and watched how the spiders reacted. Exposure to capsaicin (found in chili peppers) made no difference and menthol (found in mint leaves) only caused a small difference. But when exposed to allyl isothiocyanate (AITC), the active ingredient in mustard and wasabi, the wolf spider couldn't remove it fast enough.

More:
https://www.brightsurf.com/news/article/041519480904/hold-the-mustard-what-makes-spiders-fussy-eaters.html

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