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12 December 2013 1:00 pm ,
Vol. 342 ,
The iconic 125-year-old Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton near San Jose, California, is facing the threat of closure...
Recent results from the Curiosity Mars rover have helped scientists formulate a plan for the next phase of its mission...
A new, remarkably powerful drug that cripples the hepatitis C virus (HCV) came to market last week, but it sells for $...
In pretoothbrush populations, gumlines would often be marred by a thick, visible crust of calcium phosphate, food...
Evolutionary biologists have long studied how the Mexican tetra, a drab fish that lives in rivers and creeks but has...
Victorian astronomers spent countless hours laboriously charting the positions of stars in the sky. Such sky mapping,...
In an ambitious project to study 1000 years of sickness and health, researchers are excavating the graveyard of the now...
Stefan Behnisch has won awards for designing science labs and other buildings that are smart, sustainable, and...
- 12 December 2013 1:00 pm , Vol. 342 , #6164
- About Us
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.