There is a tiny spider that builds large, fake spiders in their web out of debris to serve as decoys.

There is a tiny spider that builds large, fake spiders in their web out of debris to serve as decoys.

Wildlife biologist Phil Torres recently discovered a new species of spider in the Amazon that would take first prize at any costume party. This tiny five-millimeter-long spider builds a decoy spider around five times its size to scare off potential predators.After describing his find on his blog, Torres sat down with Weird & Wild to share the story of how he came to find this new species of spider. Q: How did you first spot this spider? A: I was at the Tambopata Research Center in Peru (map), which is a ten-hour canoe ride from the nearest town. I was leading a rain forest expedition with a videographer, and one of them called me over and said “Hey, look at this. It looks like a dead spider.” We went over there and realized pretty quickly that something interesting was going on. It looked like a spider that had been killed by a fungus—it had this flaky, evaporated look to it. But then the thing started moving, and we realized that there was something alive in there. There was another one near it with a similar design. We put two and two together and realized that this was a fake spider. There was a small spider living behind this fake spider constructed out of debris. (Also see “Photos: World’s Biggest, Strongest Spider Webs Found.”) Had anyone previously documented this spider? After freaking out a bit, we took a bunch of pictures to really document what we had seen. I contacted Linda Rayor, one of my professors from Cornell who does a lot of spider-behavior research, and asked if she had seen anything like this. She said she hadn’t. She passed the photo around, and I contacted a few more places, and everyone said that no, they had never seen anything like it. Talking to Dr. Rayor, we determined that this spider was probably in the genus Cyclosa, because they are also known to make structures in their webs, but the other decoys are a bit more simple.