Researchers have discovered a new species of parasite that builds its home in the mouth of a tarantula — and slowly starves. Spider until death.
According to a new study published on January 17, the worm first appears as white spots around the mouth of the tarantula. Parasitology Journal.. After infection, the spider host loses control of the appendages that control its fangs and then stops eating.Infected tarantula The authors of the study write that they may also exhibit other strange behaviors, such as walking on their toes.
From there, it’s a slow toe towards a particular death.
“Tarantulas don’t need to be eaten very often, so it can take months,” said adradilman, a research co-author who is a parasitologist at the University of California, Riverside (UCR). Said in a statement.. “But if they get this infection, they will die of starvation.”
Dilman and his colleagues first focused on the killer worm in 2018, when a wholesale tarantula breeder reported multiple anomalous deaths in his stock. Each of the affected tarantulas showed strange white secretions around the mouth. This wasn’t spider nausea, and Dilman soon noticed. It was an intertwined mass of parasites called nematodes that lived in the spider’s fly holes.
“Nematodes have existed for hundreds of millions of years. [and] It has evolved to infect all types of hosts on Earth, including humans, “Dilman said.
More than 25,000 species of nematodes have been reported so far, but Dillman added that this is just the second species known to infect tarantulas. It gave his lab an exciting opportunity to learn about the elusive, spider-hunting worms.
The team learned that laboratory-reared nematodes are predominantly hermaphroditic, produce both sperm and eggs, and can self-fertilize spawning. On average, each hermaphroditic nematode produced 160 offspring in its lifetime. This lasted about 11 days in the lab. (Researchers pointed out that it is unclear how the lifespan of a worm changes when living in a tarantula.)
Researchers have also learned that nematodes infect only the area of the host’s mouth and the remaining spiders remain untouched and unharmed.
Still, because of the power to kill the newly discovered worm spider, the team named the seed a bit of Hollywood cash. Tarantobelus jeffdanielsi — Named after American actor Jeff Daniels.
“When I first heard that a new nematode species was named after me, I wondered,’Why? Are there similarities?’” Daniels joked in a statement to UCR. rice field.
In fact, the name is a homage to Daniels’ protagonist in the 1990 comedy thriller “Arachnophobia,” whose character saves a small town from the deadly spider epidemic.
“To be honest, I was honored to pay homage to me and Arachnophobia,” Daniels added. “And, of course, in Hollywood, it’s not really successful until it’s recognized by people in the field of parasitology.”
Originally published on Live Science.
Parasites put tarantulas on their toes, starving to death
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