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Social Spiders Catch Larger Prey: A Study of Anelosimus eximius (Araneae: Theridiidae)

Wolfgang Nentwig
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Vol. 17, No. 1 (1985), pp. 79-85
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4599808
Page Count: 7
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Social Spiders Catch Larger Prey: A Study of Anelosimus eximius (Araneae: Theridiidae)
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Abstract

During a 1-year-study in tropical Panama, prey of the social theridiid Anelosimus eximius was analysed at two locations and compared with the potential prey spectrum according to sweepnet catches, pitfall traps and bowl traps. Compared with other web-building spiders, A. eximius catch an unusually high number of large insects: about 90% are flying ants, beetles, lepidopterans, hemipterans, cockroaches and grasshoppers. This is the result of a communal strategy to overwhelm prey. Webs are maintained commonly, and several spiders attack an entangled insect simultaneously. More spiders participate on insects that are larger and struggle more. The ability to catch large prey insects is discussed as a major driving factor for sociality in spiders.

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