, Volume 81, Issue 3, pp 392–396 | Cite as

Constraints affecting partial prey consumption by a crab spider, Diaea sp. indet. (Araneae: Thomisidae)

  • Simon D. Pollard
Original Papers


The influence of feeding constraints on the feeding behaviour of Diaea sp. indet., was investigated. Diaea is a crab spider which ambushes its prey and practises extraintestinal digestion. A laboratory study was carried out using fruit flies, Drosophila immigrans, as prey. Diaea feeds from two sites on the prey — initially the head, followed by the posterior abdomen, with most of the prey's contents being extracted from the head. If additional prey are available, Diaea will, instead of switching to the posterior abdomen, catch a new prey item. The efficiency with which Diaea can extract food is influenced by changes which occur in the prey as a consequence of it being killed and fed on. Evaporative fluid loss from prey is an important constraint on food uptake because in influences the viscosity of the prey's contents. Regardless of whether a new prey item arrives, Diaea discards the prey item on which it is feeding before all of the available food has been extracted from it. The fluid content of the prey is not only part of the food the spider extracts, it is also a resource enabling efficient transfer of food from prey to predator. The value of the prey's fluid content as a resource decreases as a function of feeding time and as a consequence of the spider feeding on the prey.

Key words

Crab spider Feeding strategy Constraints Partial prey consumption 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bailey PCE (1986) The feeding behaviour of a sit-and wait-predator, Ranatra dispar (Heteroptera: Nepidae): optimal foraging and feeding dynamics. Oecologia 68:291–297Google Scholar
  2. Bartels M (1930) Über den Freßmechanismus und chemischen Sinn einiger Netzspinnen. Rev Suisse Zool 37:1–42Google Scholar
  3. Bernays EA, Simpson SJ (1982) Control of food intake. Adv Insect Physiol 16:59–118Google Scholar
  4. Cheverton J, Kacelnik A, Krebs JR (1985) Optimal foraging: constraints and currencies. In: Holldobler B, Lindauer M (eds) Experimental behavioral ecology. Fischer Verlag, Stuttgart, pp 109–126Google Scholar
  5. Collatz KG, Mommsen T (1974) Lebensweise und jahreszyklische Veranderungen des Stoffbestandes der Spinne Tegenaria atrica CL Koch (Agelenidae). J Comp Physiol 91:91–109Google Scholar
  6. Cook RM, Cockrell BJ (1978) Predator ingestion rates and its bearing on feeding and the theory of optimal diets. J Anim Ecol 47:529–547Google Scholar
  7. Dethier VG, Evans DR, Rhoades MV (1956) Some factors controlling the ingestion of carbohydrates by the blowfly. Biol Bull 111:204–220Google Scholar
  8. Formanowicz DR Jr (1984) Foraging tactics of an aquatic insect: partial consumption of prey. Anim Behav 32:774–781Google Scholar
  9. Griffiths D (1981) Sub-optimal foraging in the ant-lion Macroleon quinquemaculatus. J Anim Ecol 50:697–702Google Scholar
  10. Haynes DL, Sisojevic P (1966) Predatory behaviour of Philodromus rufus Walckenaer (Araneae: Thomisidae). Can Entomol 98: 113–133Google Scholar
  11. Holling CS (1966) The functional response of invertebrate predatiors to prey density. Mem Entomol Soc Can 48:1–86Google Scholar
  12. Kingsolver JG, Daniel TL (1979) On the mechanics and energetics of nectar feeding in butterflies. J Theor Biol 76:167–179Google Scholar
  13. Kruse KC (1983) Optimal foraging by predaceous diving beetle larvae on toad tadpoles. Oecologia 58:383–388Google Scholar
  14. Lucas JR (1985) Partial prey consumption by antlion larvae. Anim Behav 33:945–958Google Scholar
  15. Morse DH (1979) Prey capture by the crab spider Misumena calycina (Araneae, Thomisidae). Oecologia 39:309–319Google Scholar
  16. Morse DH (1981) Prey capture by the crab spider Misumena vatia (Clerck) (Thomisidae) on three common native flowers. Am Mid Nat 105:358–367Google Scholar
  17. Morse DH (1984) How crab spiders (Araneae, Thomisidae) hunt at flowers. J Arachnol 12:307–316Google Scholar
  18. Morse DH, Fritz RS (1982) Experimental and observational studies of patch choice at different scales by the crab spider Misumena vatia. Ecology 63:172–182Google Scholar
  19. Pollard SD (1988) Partial consumption of prey: the significance of prey water loss on estimates of biomass intake. Oecologia 76:475–476Google Scholar
  20. Sih A (1980) Optimal foraging: partial consumption of prey. Am Nat 116:281–290Google Scholar
  21. Sittertz-Bhatkar H (1980) Oral cleansing in spiders is gland mediated! Z Naturforsch 35:669–673Google Scholar
  22. Ward P, Enders MM (1985) Conflict and cooperation in the group feeding of the social spider Stegodyphus mimosarum. Behaviour 94:167–182Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simon D. Pollard
    • 1
  1. 1.Zoology DepartmentUniversity of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations