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10 April 2014 11:44 am ,
Vol. 344 ,
The Pyrenean ibex, an impressive mountain goat that lived in the central Pyrenees in Spain, went extinct in 2000. But a...
Tight budgets are forcing NASA to consider turning off one or more planetary science projects that have completed their...
Ebola is not a stranger to West Africa—an outbreak in the 1990s killed chimpanzees and sickened one researcher. But the...
In an as-yet-unpublished report, an international panel of geoscientists has concluded that a pair of deadly...
Tropical disease experts tried and failed before to eradicate yaws, a rare disfiguring disease of poor countries. Now,...
Since 2002, researchers have reported that agricultural communities in the hot and humid Pacific Coast of Central...
Balkan endemic kidney disease surfaced in the 1950s and for decades defied attempts to finger the cause. It occurred...
- 10 April 2014 11:44 am , Vol. 344 , #6180
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ScienceShot: Toxic Spider Webs Keep Ants at Bay
22 November 2011 7:00 pm
Spiders are superb artisans, weaving ethereal webs from silk finer than human hair. Now it appears that arachnids also excel at making chemical weapons. Researchers have found that the golden orb-web spider (Nephila antipodiana), a species common in tropical Asia, coats its silk with a toxic substance to deter hungry ants. The secret ingredient is a compound known as 2-pyrrolidinone, which is also made by gypsy-moth caterpillars to ward off predatory ants. When the researchers presented three types of ants with spider-silk "bridges," the insects refused to cross those soaked in 2-pyrrolidinone, the team reports online today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society. The chemical is probably physically unpleasant to the ants' antennae, which helps the spiders keep their meals to themselves.
See more ScienceShots.