, Volume 93, Issue 5, pp 251–254 | Cite as

Tie them up tight: wrapping by Philoponella vicina spiders breaks, compresses and sometimes kills their prey

  • William G. Eberhard
  • Gilbert Barrantes
  • Ju-Lin Weng
Short Communication


We show that uloborid spiders, which lack the poison glands typical of nearly all other spiders, employ thousands of wrapping movements with their hind legs and up to hundreds of meters of silk line to make a shroud that applies substantial compressive force to their prey. Shrouds sometimes break the prey’s legs, buckle its compound eyes inward, or kill it outright. The compressive force apparently results from the summation of small tensions on sticky lines as they are applied to the prey package. Behavioral details indicate that wrapping is designed to compact prey; in turn, compaction probably functions to facilitate these spiders’ unusual method of feeding. This is the first demonstration that prey wrapping by spiders compacts and physically damages their prey, rather than simply restraining them.


Venom Gland Spider Silk Digestive Juice Braconid Wasp Individual Spider 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank Yael Lubin and Brent Opell for useful discussion, Maribelle Vargas for help with the SEM, and STRI and UCR for financial support. These experiments comply with the current laws of Costa Rica.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • William G. Eberhard
    • 2
    • 3
  • Gilbert Barrantes
    • 1
  • Ju-Lin Weng
    • 1
  1. 1.Escuela de BiologíaUniversidad de Costa RicaCiudad UniversitariaCosta Rica
  2. 2.Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, and Escuela de BiologíaUniversidad de Costa RicaCiudad UniversitariaCosta Rica
  3. 3.Biología, U. C. R.Ciudad UniversitariaCosta Rica

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