Bolas Used by Spiders?

Sebastian the latrine digger at the Darwin Ranch (up yonder by Deception Pass) had cleaned himself up nicely and rode into town on payday. I happened across him at an eatery, and we had a nice lunch together. Conversation meandered, and he displayed a great deal of knowledge about cowboy life.

He told me that the heyday of Texas-to-Kansas cattle drives ended long ago, but the need for horse-mounted livestock herders exists in many parts of the world — even in present times. We talked about how South American vaqueros and gauchos educated American cowboys, and I wondered why bolas never caught on here — but the bolas spider has that skill perfected.

South American gauchos used a device called a bola to entangle runaway livestock, but bola spiders were designed to use a similar device long ago.
Bolas spider, Flickr / Judy Gallagher (CC BY 2.0)
To be blunt, these tiny spiders are ugly, making it a mite difficult to appreciate their interesting talent. A gaucho could twirl a bola (a cord with two or three balls or rocks for weight) and fling it at an animal, entangling its legs and bringing it down.

Night-hunting bola spiders prefer moths on their menu. They release a pheromone to entice a moth to believing another moth is nearby, ready for mating. The bolas spider twirls a special bit of silk from its spinneret, complete with something like glue, and lassos the moth. "Webs? We don't need no stinking webs!" A Darwinist would be hard-pressed to explain how evolution could equip the spider with all these things, but it makes sense that the Master Engineer designed them.
Among all the awe-inspiring spiders in the world, this group’s unique skill really ropes us in. At first glance, nothing stands out to suggest a special arachnid. God designed them to be inconspicuous. For one thing, they aren’t very big. The females are roughly half an inch (1.2 cm) across, while the males are pip-squeaks, measuring only about a 16th of an inch (2 mm). They’re also not flashy. Even on the arachnid beauty scale, they don’t rank high for looks. They have bulbous, lumpy abdomens, and some species even look like bird droppings. They appropriately hang out during the day on the upper surfaces of leaves. Others, which resemble snail shells, hang out on the underside of the leaves. This defensive mimicry provides some protection from predators, which are not usually drawn to droppings or hard-shelled snacks.

You can read it all by visiting "Bolas Spiders—Eight-Legged Gauchos."