Spider captures Potter Wasp (in my lab!)

Earlier today I heard a loud buzzing noise in my lab here at the Turkana Basin Institute in northern Kenya. There are a number of wasps who make their home in the lab. These wasps construct nests from mud, which they then stock with paralyzed caterpillars or spiders as food for their larvae.

Today however, the tables were turned and one of the Potter Wasps that had been coming/going from its’ nest had become entangled in the loose webbing of one of the long-legged spiders that lives under my desk.

Potter wasp gets caught!
Potter wasp gets caught!


The spider had to handle the wasp carefully as she can sting, and the spider did this by using its long legs to spread its sticky silk over the wasps’ body.

Ensnaring the wasp with silk
Ensnaring the wasp with silk


The wasp struggled fiercely, but was slowly overcome after the spider leaned in and delivered a venomous bite:

Once bitten, the wasp struggles less...
Once bitten, the wasp struggles less…


A few minutes later the spider dragged its prize to the sheltered space between my desk and wall where it lives. On looking closer I could see many tiny spiders (including their recently shed skins), who were no doubt thrilled that their mother had brought them such a feast…

Dinner for the spiders!
Dinner for the spiders!

Sometimes you don’t have to travel far to find ‘dudus’ doing interesting things!

More from the world of bugs soon!


My name is Dino J. Martins, I am a Kenyan entomologist and I love insects. The Kiswahili word for insect is dudu and if you didn't know already, insects rule the world! Thanks to the amazing efforts of the 'little things that run the world' I was humbled to be selected as a National Geographic Emerging Explorer. This blog is a virtual dudu safari through the fascinating world of bugs. Enjoy, leave a comment and send any questions or comments to me through: insects.eanhs@gmail.com
  • gene croyle

    thank you for a simple yet elegant article. i enjoyed it very much.

  • simon penzer

    Really enjoyed that,very well presented, what kind of spider was it?

  • Lisa Girard

    I just wanted to say thank you for the excellent macro work. It is brilliant.

  • Dear All – many thanks for the kind comments, I’m still working on getting a proper ID for these spiders – they are part of those that carry the generic label “daddy long-legs!”…

  • Riaan Perold

    Having lived with ‘Daddy-long-Legs’ all my life, this was like news from a long lost relative! Thank you Dino.

  • Mike Hill

    It’s amazing to think that billions of small yet life and death struggles like this have been going on every day since more than 400 million years before humans were around.
    The spider looks like a Pholcus phalangioides:
    When a Pholcus is disturbed, it will often rock back and forth in its web. BTW, The more correct application of the term Daddy Long Legs belongs to the harvestmen, Opiliones, who do not make webs. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvestmen

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