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The Arthropod Story Table of Contents   

Ecological niches

Throughout their evolution, arthropods have successfully invaded new ecological niches.
  • Cleaner shrimp run underwater "service stations", where fish come to be cleaned of parasites and old scales by the attending shrimp.

  • Australian trapdoor spiders construct elaborate snares for unsuspecting insects. Their burrows are equipped with a disguised trapdoor and a starburst of twigs. The spider lies in wait, monitoring the vibrations in the twigs for signs of prey passing overhead, and then ambushes its victim.

  • Leafcutter ant colonies live on communal fungal farms: workers tend subterranean fungal gardens and then harvest and consume the fungus.

  • The parasitic crustacean, Cymothoa exigua, is a freeloader — it lives in a fish’s mouth, attached to the fish’s tongue and feasting on its blood. Hey, may be gross, but it’s a living!

  • A locust swarm will consume almost anything green (including fabric and plastic!) and can strip a field bare in minutes.

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