Tickling spiders for science

“Depot Neurobiology – Attention! Venomous animals. Experiment running, please knock.”

Time for some off-topic science bits!
In the last two weeks I was busy participating in a project about visual neurobiology and I had so much fun that it’s worth a short post.

target practice
Here comes the evil cotton ball.

What did we do?

We took 10 adult male wandering spiders (Cupiennius salei), put them into an “arena” one by one (by “tickling” them with a cotton ball – no, really) and let them choose one of two “targets” (black cardboard figures at the back of the arena). Repeat about 300 times using different targets.

Why did we do it?

To learn more about their vision: what shapes they can distinguish from each other and/or find more attractive – without harming them. Makes interpretation that much harder though.

What are the results?

overview spiders

The larger the black area, the better. Shapes closer to the ground are also more favourable. Sloping edges not so much.

A successful run… or jumpy run… whatever. This time the thinner bar was chosen.


Ew, there’s arena dirt on my leg.

Oh dear, I love biology.


Published by

sally e. goldfinch

Level 24 biologist. Has a weakness for non-humans, beer and voices lower than a 100 Hertz.

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