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The Curious Case of the Vampire Spider

Funny, how their name is closely associated to Count Dracula and Edward Cullen, but Vampire spiders do not really harm humans by sucking their blood. Instead, Vampire Spiders feed on the mosquitoes that feed on human blood. This appetite for mosquitoes that have human blood in their system makes them a third party vampire. Of course, since mosquitoes do not only feed on human blood but also on animal blood, Vampire spiders do not just have appetite for human blood but to each and every kind of blood from which their prey feeds on.

Vampire Spider Overview

The scientific name for Vampire spider is Eresus lamiae. These spiders belong to the arachnid family called Eresidae and are closely related to Velvet Spiders mostly found in the caves somewhere in Mongolia. These spiders reached the United States sometime in the late 1900s. It was suspected that they have reached foreign lands through the products traded from Mongolia such as cashmere.

In their natural habitats (that's not your house but in caves), they feed on small cave creatures like mosquitoes that feed on animals inhabiting the caves. When it reached the United States, probably because of the nature by which they are brought it, houses became their normal habitats. They are frequently spotted in bedrooms and in sock drawers. Many experts suggest that their inclination to lurk in sock drawers and inside shoes is due to their attraction to the smell of the human feet.

What about their attraction towards the human foot?

Vampire spiders are able to locate their prey by first locating where their prey feeds on. In the case of the female mosquitoes that feed on warm blooded animals like humans, Vampire spiders would locate the very part of the human body where mosquitoes are highly inclined to bite: the foot. They cannot pierce or bite the human skin, so they simply wait around somewhere close to the human foot. Many people would freak out at the very thought of having a spider by their foot but the simple truth is that these spiders do not really harm humans, in fact, they can be considered out allies because they feed on the insects that bring serious diseases like malaria and dengue. Vampire spiders are really safe around humans that even in the event that they accidentally bite humans, they will not cause any serious harm except for the bite marks that might appear after the incident. They do not have venom too.

Vampire Spiders as Human Allies

Apart from the Eresus lamiae, another Vampire spider specie has been discovered in Kenya some time in 2003. The spider was called Evarcha culicivora. This spider has characteristics that are closely related to the Eresus lamiae specie. First, both these species target mosquitoes that are malarial and those mosquitoes that can carry the disease called malaria. They find these mosquitoes more appetizing when they have just bloated their bellies with human blood because for the real essence of their names, Vampire spiders do love blood, although they cannot get it themselves. These spiders are able to recognize a well-fed mosquito from those which are not because of their appearance and smell.

Blood for Sex

This one is not intended for kids to read, so if you are below 18, just skip this part. In 2009, scientists found out that human blood also serves as an aphrodisiac to spiders. After having their fill of the blood, these spiders become so hyped up for sex that they would immediately look for a mate to release their need for sexual pleasure. Moreover, it was also found out that Vampire spiders that have just eaten mosquitoes retain the smell of the human blood. This smell makes them very irresisible to other spiders of the opposite sex. Thus, it can be said that feeding on human blood ensures the continued survival of their specie.

What's with human blood anyway?

Well, there should be a reason why Vampires love the human blood, right? Today, scientists speculate that this special liking for human blood might be due to the fact that the blood is just like a protein-rich red shake that is filled with so much nutrients. Because it is in a liquid form, it is so easy to digest and since Vampires are supposed to have little or no metabolic activity inside them (that's fictitious, right?), it is the perfect meal for them. In reality, vampire spiders prefer a prey that feeds on human blood because of the same reason. They need to spend minimum energy on food processing and the blood is the best type of food for them to be able to do so.

Vampire spiders are tested to verify this notion. So, scientist prepared groups of mosquitoes that are to be fed to the Vampire spiders. The groups are: (1) male mosquitoes that do not feed on blood, (2) female mosquitoes that feed on sugar juices extracted from fruits and flowers and (3) female mosquitoes that feed on human blood. Even without the use of any device, they were able to observe almost immediately that the Vampire spiders are more responsive to the female mosquitoes that feed on human blood. Moreover, the Vampire spiders are then exposed to female mosquitoes that have just fed on human blood and to those that are still hungry. The scientists are able to verify that the Vampire spiders would go after those that have drunk human blood already.


Well, spiders actually differ from each other in so many different ways. Many of the spiders have been proven to be harmless to humans and now, through the curious case of the Vampire spiders, we are actually able to find out that spiders are also very beneficial to humans. This should be left as a point for Arachnophobic individuals to ponder upon. Spiders may look really creepy because of their hair and the many eyes that they have. But if we care to look a little bit closer, we will see that they are also very lovable creatures (finally, I have understood Hagrid!).
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