, Volume 98, Issue 7, pp 605-613
Date: 24 May 2011

Sexual behavior, cannibalism, and mating plugs as sticky traps in the orb weaver spider Leucauge argyra (Tetragnathidae)

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access

Abstract

Unpublished field observations in Leucauge argyra, a tropical orb weaver spider, suggest the occurrence of conspicuous mating plugs that could reduce or prevent remating attempts. Otherwise, the sexual behavior of this species remains unknown. The aims of this study were to describe the courtship behavior and copulation in L. argyra and investigate mating plug formation in this species. Fourteen virgin females and 12 plugged females were exposed to up to three males and checked for mating plug formation. Of the 12 virgins that copulated, nine produced plugs (five immediately after copulation), and the five plugged females that copulated produced another mating plug immediately after copulation. We did not detect the transfer of any male substance during copulation but observed a whitish liquid emerging from female genital ducts. Plug formation was positively associated with male twanging during courtship. One virgin and four plugged females cannibalized males. In seven trials with virgins and in three trials with plugged females, the male’s palp adhered to a substance that emerged from female genital ducts and spread on her genital plate. The male had to struggle energetically to free his glued palp; two of these males were cannibalized while trying to release their palps. Females seem to determine copulation duration by altering the timing of mating plug formation and through sexual cannibalism. This is the first case reported of a mating plug as a sticky trap for males.

Communicated by: Sven Thatje