The Meta menardi spider is a heterotrophic organism that feeds on smaller prey that it captures. As the Meta menardi spider lives deep within caves and dark places the food source is limited and varies upon season. Though this is the case, the Meta menardi survives and thrives by capturing not small and abundant prey such as mosquitoes and chironomid flies that can be found in theRed with black stripe millipede cave, but by capturing large prey like myriapods (Smithers, 1996). Myriapoda’s and millipedes make up a large portion of a Meta menardi prey (Smithers, 2004), which is a result of the Meta menardi preying on organisms that crawl and walk on the cave’s surfaces rather than flying insects (Smithers, 1996).
According to a research study by Peter Smithers, myriapods consisted of 30% of the prey that they retrieved from Meta menardi (Smithers, 2004). The most abundant prey was the Julidae with 10 being retrieved. Meta menardi captured this prey almost year round, as summer was the only season where a Julidae was not captured. However, there was an increase in the number of Julidae captured in spring. All of this is due to the Julidae’s migration, which makes the Meta menardi’s diet very dependent on the season (Smithers, 2004).

Though there is a limited amount of food in caves, the change in season does bring in more variety and food for the Meta menardi to prey on. The slug is a great example as it escapes the harsh winter conditions into the cave of the Meta menardi. Gastropods also are a regular part of a Meta menardi’s diet. However, because of its large size males rarely consume slugsBrown Slug as they are too small, but mainly captured and consumed by the bigger and stronger females (Smithers, 2005)

The web that the Meta menardi make is a reason as to why it’s diet rarely consists of smaller fly insects as the mesh size, or gaps between each thread, is too large therefor smaller insects don’t get ensnared and eaten. The placement of the web is also vertical or parallel to the cave wall which is meant to capture prey that crawl on the cave walls rather than flying insects (Smithers, 1996). When a prey gets ensnared on the web and struggles to free itself, it sends vibrations through out the web letting the Meta menardi know it has captured a prey. Though this tactic results in less prey being captured it results in larger prey.

Meta menardi may at times also attack and eat other spiders of the same species and also Metellina meriana, a spider who is closely related to Meta menardi and can be found in the same caves (ESA, 2012).

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