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Australia Science

Spider Spins Ant-Repellent Silk 42

bazzalunatic writes "The common golden orb web spider wards off ants from attacking it on its web by spinning an ant repellent (pyrrolidine alkaloid) into its silk. It could be used to develop a new insect repellent for humans. 'This study is among the first to show animals incorporating a chemical defence as a response to the threat of predation,' says Professor Mark Elgar of the University of Melbourne."
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Spider Spins Ant-Repellent Silk

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  • by NotSoHeavyD3 ( 1400425 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @10:10AM (#38174414)
    Admittedly I can't find it.(My GoogleFu is weak today.) I know they lay their eggs at the end of long threads to protect them. I thought I read somewhere that the threads have a chemical repellent to keep ants away (Since you'd think one tiny ant would just climb down and get it) but I can't find anything on Google confirming that.
  • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Saturday November 26, 2011 @02:11PM (#38175458)

    That is a handy type of repellant, but will the Ants become immune to it after a while

    Why? That's the good thing about a repellent: it does not kill ants. So unless you have ants that can only survive by eating spiders, a repellent should not affect the evolution of the ants in any way. They will just move out of the way and find something else to scavenge. Now if you start guarding all their food-sources with this repellent and put evolutionary "pressure" (ie, overcoming this chemical puzzle means significant advantage and survival likelyhood compared to other ant colonies) you might see resistance. But otherwise, no.

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