By Thomas Friestad
MONTEVERDE, Costa Rica — Theodore Roosevelt once said famously, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Deep within Monteverde’s Bosque Nuboso, the stick spider seems to heed his advice. In fact, its sticks are so comparatively massive, the spider must sit on top of, rather than hold them.
While the garden variety spider relies solely on its web to catch insect prey, the stick spider goes the extra mile. The aptly-named arachnid spins a narrow inches-long column of webbing at the top of its web, allowing it to dangle down into what appears to be open space.
To other insects, this simply resembles a twig in the breeze, but to the spider, it resembles a fishing lure. Nature guide Esteban Mendez Vargas said it uses this lure to catch dinner with remarkable efficacy.
“If the insects just see open air and a stick hanging down, they don’t think anything of flying through,” Mendez said. “That’s their mistake.”