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No. 52: Jul-Aug 1987

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Aggressive Mimicry

Field studies have revealed that bolas spiders can mimic the odor of female moths, thus attracting for consumption the male moths. More specifically, the hunting adult female spider, Mastophora cornigera, releases volatile substances containing three moth sex pheromone compounds.

(Stowe, Mark K., et al; "Chemical Mimicry: Bolas Spiders Emit Components of Moth Prey Species Sex Pheromones," Science, 236:964, 1987.)

Comment. As in many other cases of mimicry, one wonders how the spider's capability developed by chance and in small steps.

From Science Frontiers #52, JUL-AUG 1987. 1987-2000 William R. Corliss