February 20, 2011

Stinky Sock Spiders!

Some people think spiders are gross, and EVERYBODY hates stinky socks. So you’d think that a spider who is attracted to sweaty, stinky socks would be revolting. But it’s not!

Here’s the deal: Mosquitoes are attracted to human smells, so sweaty socks are like mosquito magnets. And since the East African jumping spider (Evarcha culicivora) eats mosquitoes, it’s learned that sweaty socks are good places to pounce on its prey.

In the tropics, blood-sucking mosquitoes can carry diseases like malaria. So folks there should encourage the jumping spider to hang out in their dirty laundry! As this BBC article says, the spider “may be a rather ugly, bloodthirsty little creature, but it could help in the ongoing and complex battle against malaria.”

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