As generalists, Mexican red-knee tarantulas do not control species of prey. As a whole, however, tarantulas help stabilize or regulate insect populations, as tarantulas are one of the biggest families of insectivores and exhibit a wide variety of lifestyles and foraging strategies. Spiders are also important prey for birds, moths, lizards, and other insectivores. Spiders are primary food sources for bark-gathering birds. Birds also use the silk of spiders to build nest, as the protein fibers of their silk adds stability.
Mexican red-knee tarantulas are parasitized by pepsis wasps, which use their body as a nest. Pepsis wasps seek tarantula burrows and vibrate their body, mimicking prey. When a tarantula emerges from its burrow, the wasp stings it and lays eggs in its paralyzed body. When the larvae hatch, they feed upon the tarantula.
Ecosystem Impact: keystone species
- Hansel, M. 1993. Secondhand silk. Natural History, 10: 40-46.
- Nyffeler, M., W. Sterling, D. Dean. 1994. How spiders make a living. Entomological Society of America, 23(6): 1357-1367.
- Peterson, A., D. Osborne, D. Taylor. 1989. Tree trunk arthropod faunas as food resources for birds. Ohio Journal of Science, 89(1): 23-25.
- Riechert, S., T. Lockley. 1984. Spiders as biological control agents. Annual Review of Entomology, 29: 299-320.
- Skerl, K. 1997. "Spider Conservation in the United States" (On-line). University of Michigan. Accessed November 11, 2009 at http://www.umich.edu/~esupdate/library/97.03-04/skerl.html.
No one has provided updates yet.