Watch: Spider Battles Scorpion Twice Its Size
Of all the places to find a large spider battling an even bigger scorpion, a household bathroom has to be one of the more surprising.
When a man near Melbourne, Australia, came across the two creatures doing just that in his home, he grabbed a camera.
The scorpion can be seen dangling upturned from the spider's sticky web, wriggling its body and struggling to gain freedom. The spider suddenly enters and leaves the video frame, raising the stakes.
Paula Cushing, a curator of invertebrate zoology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, explains how such a spider can use its silk as a tool to take down a predator nearly twice its size. Once the scorpion's pincers and stinger are immobilized by the webbing, the spider can be seen biting through the scorpion's exoskeleton with its fangs, which it uses to inject the scorpion with an immobilizing venom.
Ohio University professor emeritus Jerome Rovner says this hunting style is known as "attack-wrapping."
"They first wrap the prey with silk to greatly immobilize it and only afterward do they bite the prey to inject venom to completely paralyze it," said Rovner. "Wrapping first is much safer, as the spider might be injured by the prey if it put its face close enough to it to bite at first."
The video also shows the spider's fourth pair of legs, which contain "comb-hairs." These structures are used to grasp the silk from its spinnerets to attach and wrap around its prey.
This sort of Spiderman-like attack-wrapping is a common feature found in spiders belonging to the family Pholcidae, which contains species such as what's often locally called daddy long legs, the species the filmmaker believed this spider to be. Pholcidae are more broadly referred to as cellar spiders for their propensity to turn up in household cellars. (Note: in North America and Europe, unrelated arachnids or even insects are often called daddy long legs.)
Rovner noted that cellars and basements are the most common part of a house in which these arachnids can be found, but they really prefer anywhere with a high amount of humidity—like any household bathroom.