Journal of Ethology

, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 183–190 | Cite as

Prey capture behavior in three Neotropical armored harvestmen (Arachnida, Opiliones)

  • Thaiany M. Costa
  • Norton F. S. Silva
  • Rodrigo H. WillemartEmail author


Acquiring food requires success in all the distinct phases of foraging, among which are detecting, capturing and handling prey. We have looked at prey detection, capturing and handling in three species of armored harvestmen differing in leg length and pedipalp morphology: Discocyrtus pectinifemur, Heteromitobates discolor and Gryne perlata. We recorded males and females in captivity capturing 0.5- to 0.7-mm-long immature crickets without legs III and provide the first detailed description of prey capture in harvestmen of the suborder Laniatores. We have shown that these three species can detect live prey without touching it but only at close range (<1 cm). The success at the strike phase was: 27.2 % for D. pectinifemur, 50 % for G. perlata and 72.7 % for H. discolor. Combining the probability of detection without contact with that of successful capturing of the two-legged cricket, the success rate of G. perlata, D. pectinifemur and H. discolor were, respectively, 2, 21 and 32 %. Only one cricket escaped from within the pedipalps of the harvestmen (G. perlata, smooth pedipalps). The long-legged H. discolor, which forage in open areas, had a higher success and, after detection, took less time to attack crickets in open areas. Compared to other arachnids, prey detection happens at close range and capture success in Laniatores is low. However, omnivory probably minimizes these limitations in capturing live prey.


Detection Foraging Handling Prey capture Gonyleptidae Cosmetidae 



We are grateful to J. Segovia, B. Taques and N. Fernandes for helping collecting the animals, the staff of the “Parque Estadual Serra do Mar—Picinguaba” (mainly Eliane, Caroline and Lucia) and the members of the LESCA Lab, J.M. Dias, J. Segovia, N. Fernandes, G.F. Pagoti, G.P. Murayama and G. Gainett for revising the manuscript. Two anonymous reviewers also greatly contributed to the manuscript. A.C. Machado greatly helped maintaining the animals in the laboratory. This study was supported by FAPESP to R.H.W., CNPq to T.M.C. and CAPES to N.F.S.S.


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Copyright information

© Japan Ethological Society and Springer Japan 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thaiany M. Costa
    • 1
    • 3
  • Norton F. S. Silva
    • 1
    • 2
  • Rodrigo H. Willemart
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Laboratório de Ecologia Sensorial e Comportamento de Artrópodes, Escola de Artes, Ciências e HumanidadesUniversidade de São PauloSão PauloBrazil
  2. 2.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ecologia e EvoluçãoUniversidade Federal de São PauloDiademaBrazil
  3. 3.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Zoologia, Instituto de BiociênciasUniversidade de São PauloSão PauloBrazil

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