Journal of Ethology

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 125–136 | Cite as

Risky behaviors by the host could favor araneophagy of the spitting spider Scytodes globula on the hacklemesh weaver Metaltella simoni

  • Ignacio EscalanteEmail author
  • Anita Aisenberg
  • Fernando G. Costa


Versatile predatory tactics might favor success during intra-guild predation. In the case of spiders, the preditory spitting spiders (Scytodidae) invade webs and feed on certain weaver spiders. Based on preliminary observations of Scytodes globula, we tested if this spider species as predator could feed on the sympatric hacklemesh weaver Metaltella simoni (Amphinectidae) as host, or if the host spider could prevent the attack. We exposed adult females of M. simoni on 2-week-old webs to adult female spitting spiders. The spitting spider preyed on the host spider in 28 % of the 72 trials in which the two spider species interacted. Leaving the retreat, approaching the predator, and touching the invader apparently made the host spider vulnerable to predation in 55 % of those interactions; therefore, those were considered risky behaviors. To the contrary, the host spider had a success rate of 67 % of surviving predation by performing defensive behaviors (moving hind legs, performing defensive displays). In four trials, the invader performed a defensive spit to deter the attack of the host spider, which points to the versatility of this trait. We found no effect of body size ratio of the spiders on the outcome of the interactions. The host spider left the retreat after the spitting spider entered its web, suggesting that the spitting spider could be performing aggressive mimicry, but notion is supported by only indirect evidence and needs further exploration. In summary, behavioral interplay mediated the outcome of the interactions between the two coexisting predators assessed in our study.


Amphinectidae Araneae Ethograms Predator–prey interaction Scytodidae Uruguay 



We thank M. Masís for her extensive help in measuring the body size of the spiders. We also thank E. Stanley, L. Montes de Oca, S. Fierro, M. J. Albo, V. Mello, C. Toscano-Gadea, and all of the staff of the Laboratorio de Etología, Ecología y Evolución of the IIBCE for their assistance in the field and in laboratory during this project. D. Li, R. H. Willemart, R. R. Jackson, F. Pérez-Miles, M. Simó, and C. Viera provided important guidance and suggestions, as well as the literature to improve this project. Two anonymous reviewers contributed substantially to the improvement of of this manuscript. Financial support was provided by PEDECIBA (AA), ANII (AA and FGC), and the SEP-UCR (IE).

Supplementary material

Video S1: Behavioral interactions during laboratory trails in enclosed arenas (see Fig. 1) between the spitting spider Scytodes globula (Scytodidae) and the hacklemesh weaver Metaltella simoni (Amphinectidae). Three different outcomes (see Table 3) are presented (WMV 24947 kb)


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Copyright information

© Japan Ethological Society and Springer Japan 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ignacio Escalante
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Anita Aisenberg
    • 2
  • Fernando G. Costa
    • 2
  1. 1.Escuela de Biología, Ciudad Universitaria Rodrigo FacioUniversidad de Costa RicaSan JoséCosta Rica
  2. 2.Laboratorio de Etología, Ecología y EvoluciónInstituto de Investigaciones Biológicas Clemente EstableMontevideoUruguay
  3. 3.Department of Environmental Sciences, Policy, and ManagementUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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