9 Animal Predators That Eat Spiders: In-Depth Look

Animals that eat spiders

There aren’t many creatures on Earth that elicit a fear response like spiders do. Horror movies have been made about them since the dawn of film, but these 8-legged creatures have more to fear than we do. Many animal predators that eat spiders search them out for a quick meal, but humans are on top of the food chain.

Spiders occupy the middle ground when it comes to the food chain. They eat animals and bugs, and they in turn are a regular food source for many other predators. Birds, bats, frogs, centipedes, and even other spiders regularly consume spiders every day as a common source of sustenance.

Shrug off the arachnophobia and come take a tour with me. Here we will go over a handful of animal predators that can eat spiders. Some may surprise you, especially number 9, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves!

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1. Birds Eat Spiders

Many of our feathered friends consume spider meat on a regular basis. Insect-eating and omnivorous birds will eat spiders whenever they see them. 

Some birds will swoop down and snatch spiders directly from their webs, while others pounce on them as the spider crawls across the ground.

All of the spider’s defenses are completely ineffective against a hard, sharp beak.

If you are having a spider problem, you should definitely try attracting more birds to the infested area!

What About The Spider’s Venom?

Birds inherently know which spiders they can take down and don’t peck off more than they can chew. That is unless they come across the Goliath Bird-Eater spider. Yep, that’s a real spider, and yes it can and does consume birds.

We’ll circle around to that spider later, so ready yourselves. Spiders that are captured by birds are usually subdued before they are consumed, so the bird has little to fear when it comes to spider fangs and venom.

When the bird eats the spider, the venom is broken down by stomach acid, besides, venom has to be injected into the bloodstream to cause damage.

Birds often feed spiders to their young, so the venom is harmless to birds when ingested.

2. Toads And Frogs “Toad-ally” Eat Spiders

Toads can be voracious consumers. Some toads such as the cane toad will eat anything that moves and will fit in their mouth. This includes the eight-legged, freaky-looking spider.

Frogs consume spiders too, but they seem to have a more discerning palette. They both consume spiders in the same way. They shoot out their sticky tongues, the spider sticks to the thick saliva, then they are gulped down.

If you’re worried that the frog or toad’s tongue could get bitten, that rarely if at all happens.

A frog or toad’s saliva is so thick and sticky that once an insect or spider gets stuck, it can’t move. Before the spider even has time to react, it’s stuck in the amphibian’s mouth, and then gulped down…goodnight little spider.

3. Bats Swoop And Eat Spiders

Spider and his Web

I’m not sure who would win a fight if your two favorite bat and spider superheros had a brawl, but in nature, it’s a tossup.

Sometimes bats get the best of spiders, but then again, there are some spiders that turn the tables on bats. Especially very small bats that get caught in spider webs.

Generally, bats are bigger than most spiders, and will use their echolocation and sight to find spiders and then scoop them right off their webs! Yes, I said sight. “Blind as a bat” is a bit of a misnomer because bats do have good vision – read more about this in our article about things that attract bats!

Insect-eating bats tend to eat flying bugs such as mosquitoes, moths, and beetles. When they see a fat, juicy spider hiding out in a web, they go and scoop it up.

Spiders Eat Bats Too!

Then again, there are spiders who consume bats.

Two types of these spiders include the giant golden silk orb-weavers and the false widow spider. They can spin very strong webs that catch smaller bats.

So, while some bats eat spiders, they have to be careful not to become a hashtag on the spider’s menu.

4. Wasps Will Eat Spiders

Many wasp species will consume spiders, including hornets, but here we will introduce you to specialized spider-seeking wasps. Two types of these wasps include the tarantula hawk and parasitic wasps.

They both behave in a very similar manner. The wasp will either prowl along the ground or even provoke a spider into attacking by tapping on the spider’s webs. When the spider comes out looking for a meal, the wasp stings the spider.

Often the spider is bigger than the wasp, but that doesn’t matter, the wasp will still take it down easily.

But hey, we’re not here going to tell you to attract wasps if you have a spider problem, plus if you have wasps you need to get rid of them asap! First, call a professional, and then get this Wondercide Wasp & Hornet Spray!

5. Centipedes Consume Spiders

Spiders don’t have a chance if they come across centipedes. Unless the centipede is much smaller than the spider that is. Centipedes have a hard-shelled body, they have two or three times as many legs, and they too have venom.

Centipedes are “off the chain” prowlers that descend upon the night and consume anything they can get their legs and venomous mandibles on.

Centipedes don’t actually bite you, instead, they have shortened, venom-filled, legs near their heads.

But that doesn’t matter to anything in their way, because if it’s a bug, spider, or anything else near the size of the centipede, it will probably try to eat it.

6. Lizards Like Eating Spiders

Little lizards are usually insectivores or omnivores, and they won’t hesitate to grab spiders.

These quick little reptiles will chase down spiders, snatch them up in their jaws and then gobble them up.

Most lizards have tiny teeth that are great for grabbing onto small, squirmy buds, and not letting them go.

Chameleons Love Spiders!

There are some lizards like chameleons that have sticky tongues like frogs and toads. The difference is, a chameleon can shoot out its tongue much farther than frogs. The same principle is at work here though.

The chameleon aims its tongue, darts it out like a harpoon, and reels it back in with the spider attached.

Lizards actually help control spider populations. You may be wondering how by now, because of everything else that eats spiders on the list, but areas that don’t have healthy lizard populations, tend to have higher spider populations.

7. Spiders Snack On Other Spiders

Spider on morning web in yellow warm sun light

Spiders are opportunistic and won’t turn down a meal if it wanders too close or gets stuck in the web. When a spider is full, they often wrap the excess food in silk—kind of like getting a doggy bag at a restaurant—and save it for later.

This behavior isn’t limited to insects, no, spiders will consume other spiders. It doesn’t matter if a neighboring spider wanders into the wrong web, or a larger spider pounces on a smaller one, they will eat their cousins.

Spider Offspring Eat Other Spiders

Spider young-in’s are some of the biggest traitors to their species. Often they will eat other spiders after they hatch, especially if food is scarce among them all.

Another rather disconcerting action is called matriphagy.

This is the act of spiders eating their mothers. While this freaky fact is rather rare in the spider world, it does happen sometimes.

8. Ants Antagonize And Eat Spiders

A single ant is no match for a single spider. But where there’s one ant, an entire colony is not far behind. When ants march together in the search for food, anything that comes across their path gets devoured.

Army ants are probably the most notorious ants for overtaking and eating anything that gets close.

They can take down scorpions, spiders, centipedes, frogs, lizards, snakes, and anything else that’s unlucky enough to come across the insect platoon.

9. Humans Eat Spiders–Sometimes

Here we are at number 9. Did you guess it was people who consume spiders? And no, I’m not talking about the spiders we swallow in our sleep. That’s a myth that has been busted, just so you know.

I feel like we need to discuss a little disclaimer here, this post is about natural predators that eat spiders.

While we aren’t exactly natural predators, spiders have been on the menu for some indigenous peoples since time began.

And believe it or not, for a spider – humans really aren’t all that attractive. Check out our article about why spiders aren’t attracted to humans, maybe it will help you the next time you see a spider in your house!

What Makes Spiders So Frightening?

Isolated macro of an adult jumping spider

If we go back to early humans, the fear of spiders helped to keep them alive. They had a healthy fear of things that presented a big threat.

So why are they so scary? Scientists have been trying to get to the root of the problem for a long time. Some say we are frightened by spiders because as a child we saw other adults were afraid of them, while others suggest traumatic past experiences.

According to a Penn State University study, fear of spiders typically doesn’t come from traumatic events, or the fear of being bitten, but rather because of all the legs.

We all know spiders have 8 legs, but extremely hairy spiders, such as tarantulas, get more of a fear response – and we get it! So, if you’re finding too many spiders around, head on over to our article about things that will scare spiders away! And as always – contact a professional immediately if you’re having any spider issues.

A Spider’s Anatomy Helps Them Defend themselves

Spiders have soft bodies, unlike most other insects, so they had to develop another way to defend themselves from predators.

These defenses are also used to procure food. Their eyes, the multiple legs, the silk most spiders use, and of course their fangs are valuable tools for spiders.

Spiders See All-Around

Most spiders have 8 eyes on top of their heads. Some are so small they are nearly impossible to see, but who wants to get that close anyway?

All these eyes help them to detect movement. Spiders actually can’t see all that well, but they can sense light and movement.

This helps them to detect prey, and threats, then they can decide to either pounce or run away.

So Many Legs

The multitude of legs seems to be the biggest reason so many people have arachnophobia, but spiders use those legs to secure food and walk on the webs they weave.

If six legs are good for getting around, then to beat out the competition, eight legs should be better!

My What Big Fangs You Have!

I would think this body part should cause more fear, but I’m not a scientist. Maybe it’s because most spiders that people see around their yards or inside their houses are so small you don’t really see the fangs. You can certainly see the legs though…

Fangs can certainly be frightening. Hollywood puts fangs on most of their monsters, but for spiders, these are essential tools to defend themselves.

When finding food, spiders often target things that can harm them or can get away quickly. So spiders need a way to subdue their meals before they get away or hurt the spider.

Though all these traits are perceived as frightening threats to us, for the spider, they are needed to survive.

Okay, That’s It, We’re Done Here!

No more talk of spiders here, but if you’re interested in more spider information, check out these posts all about spiders.

Now we know what predators eat spiders, so let them do their thing around your property to keep the spider population down. Nine of the most popular animal predators that eat spiders include:

  • Birds
  • Spiders
  • Lizards
  • Frogs and Toads
  • Centipedes
  • Bats
  • Ants
  • Wasps
  • Humans

Of course, spiders help control the insect population, so maybe they really aren’t that bad. I’ll leave that one up to you, see you at the next one!

References:

Vardy, Colin Ryder. “The New World tarantula-hawk wasp genus Pepsis Fabricius (Hymenoptera: Pompilidae). Part 1. Introduction and the P. rubra species-group.” Zoologische Verhandelingen 332 (2000): 1-86. https://repository.naturalis.nl/pub/219443

KELLOGG, REMINGTON. “spiders. Toads eating such organisms do sometimes show that they are uncomfortable, but they may fail to discriminate between sting-ing and nonstinging species. Phytophagous millepeds, some of which are known to secrete hydrocyanic acid, also are eaten by toads. Do More Good than Harm.” https://naldc.nal.usda.gov/download/IND43892304/PDF

Bernard, Enrico. “Diet, activity and reproduction of bat species (Mammalia, Chiroptera) in Central Amazonia, Brazil.” Revista Brasileira de Zoologia 19 (2002): 173-188. https://www.scielo.br/j/rbzool/a/tQNMvYKBZVQVFHwPHPm4zDy/abstract/?lang=en

Denno, Robert F., et al. “Interactions between a hunting spider and a web‐builder: consequences of intraguild predation and cannibalism for prey suppression.” Ecological entomology 29.5 (2004): 566-577. https://resjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.0307-6946.2004.00628.x

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