Sociable widow spiders? Evidence of subsociality in Latrodectus Walckenaer, 1805 (Araneae, Theridiidae)
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A first case of subsociality is reported for the genus Latrodectus. Individuals were found sharing the same web and feeding together. In captivity they showed mutual tolerance and communal feeding. This finding is remarkable for two reasons. First, widow spiders, even compared with other spiders, are famously aggressive and cannibalistic so that social behavior in the genus was unexpected. Second, the genus nests outside the “Anelosimus + lost colulus” clade where all the other social theridiids are found.
KeywordsBrazil Latrodectus cf. curacaviensis Neotropics Social behavior
We are grateful to Ingi Agnarsson for his comments on the manuscript, Kátia de Mendonça Faria and Maurício Pavani for helping with the field work, and Ibama and Parque Nacional da Serra do Cipó for providing permits and support for field work. Financial support—FAPESP for RB and CAPES and FAPESP for CSF.
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