Applied Entomology and Zoology

, Volume 51, Issue 1, pp 43–51 | Cite as

Invasion of the redback spider Latrodectus hasseltii (Araneae: Theridiidae) into human-modified sand dune ecosystems in Japan

  • Shun TakagiEmail author
  • Wataru Toki
  • Akira Yoshioka
Original Research Paper


Invasions of some areas of Japan by the exotic redback spider Latrodectus hasseltii Thorell (Araneae: Theridiidae) have been reported. While most of these invasions have occurred in urban areas, anthropogenic habitat modifications may provide an opportunity for L. hasseltii to invade semi-natural ecosystems, but the ecological impacts of L. hasseltii have only rarely been studied. We therefore examined the distribution of L. hasseltii in sand dune ecosystems and its potential impacts on other animals. In addition, we surveyed the occurrence of spiders on the exotic yucca Yucca gloriosa L. (Asparagaceae), another invader of sand dune ecosystems. Latrodectus hasseltii was observed in six of 18 sand dunes in the Chita Peninsula, central Japan, and was the dominant web-building spider at one site. The web contents of L. hasseltii consisted of various arthropod species, including the threatened ground beetle Scarites sulcatus Olivier (Carabidae). In all, 24 of 172 patches of exotic yucca were occupied by L. hasseltii, suggesting that colonization by exotic plants may facilitate the invasion of L. hasseltii into sand dunes. This is the first report of the invasion of L. hasseltii into semi-natural habitats in Japan, and these results suggest that L. hasseltii poses a threat to the conservation of coastal insects inhabiting human-modified sand dune ecosystems.


Biological invasions Coastal beetles Coastal structures Exotic predator Widow spider 



We thank Dr. Akio Tanikawa (the University of Tokyo) for his expertise in identifying spiders. We also thank two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. This study was supported by The Zoshinkai Fund for Protection of Endangered Animals.


  1. Aichi Environmental Research Center (ed)(2009) Threatened wildlife of Aichi Prefecture; Red Data Book Aichi 2009: animals. Department of the Environment, Aichi Prefectural Government, Nagoya (in Japanese)Google Scholar
  2. Aichi Prefecture (2015) The discovery of redback spiders in the Aichi Prefecture. Accessed 17 May 2015 (in Japanese)
  3. BDBA Committee (ed)(2012) Introduced animals and plants in Aichi Prefecture; Blue Data Book Aichi 2012. Department of the Environment, Aichi Prefectural Government, Nagoya (in Japanese)Google Scholar
  4. Bednarski J, Ginsberg H, Jakob EM (2010) Competitive interactions between a native spider (Frontinella communis, Araneae: Linyphiidae) and an invasive spider (Linyphia triangularis, Araneae: Linyphiidae). Biol Invasions 12:905–912. doi: 10.1007/s10530-009-9511-7 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Blick T, Bosmans R, Buchar J et al (2004) Checkliste der Spinnen Mitteleuropas. Checklist of the spiders of Central Europe (Arachnida: Araneae), version 1. Accessed 17 May 2015
  6. Bulleri F, Chapman MG (2010) The introduction of coastal infrastructure as a driver of change in marine environments. J Appl Ecol 47:26–35. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2664.2009.01751.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Byers J (2002) Impact of non-indigenous species on natives enhanced by anthropogenic alteration of selection regimes. Oikos 97:449–458. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0706.2002.970316.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Carboni M, Santoro R, Acosta ATR (2010) Are some communities of the coastal dune zonation more susceptible to alien plant invasion? J Plant Ecol 3:139–147. doi: 10.1093/jpe/rtp037 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chikuni Y (1989) Pictoral encyclopedia of spiders in Japan. Kaisei-sha, Tokyo (in Japanese) Google Scholar
  10. Defeo O, McLachlan A, Schoeman DS et al (2009) Threats to sandy beach ecosystems: a review. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 81:1–12. doi: 10.1016/j.ecss.2008.09.022 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Didham RK, Tylianakis JM, Gemmell NJ et al (2007) Interactive effects of habitat modification and species invasion on native species decline. Trends Ecol Evol 22:489–496. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2007.07.001 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Forster L (1985) Is the redback spider here to stay? New Zeal J Agric 150:58–59Google Scholar
  13. Garb JE, Hayashi CY (2013) Molecular evolution of α-latrotoxin, the exceptionally potent vertebrate neurotoxin in black widow spider venom. Mol Biol Evol 30:999–1014. doi: 10.1093/molbev/mst011 PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Glasby TM, Connell SD, Holloway MG, Hewitt CL (2007) Nonindigenous biota on artificial structures: could habitat creation facilitate biological invasions? Mar Biol 151:887–895. doi: 10.1007/s00227-006-0552-5 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Graudins A, Little MJ, Pineda SS et al (2012) Cloning and activity of a novel α-latrotoxin from red-back spider venom. Biochem Pharmacol 83:170–183. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2011.09.024
  16. Green PT, O’Dowd DJ, Abbott KL et al (2011) Invasional meltdown: invader–invader mutualism facilitates a secondary invasion. Ecology 92:1758–1768. doi: 10.1890/11-0050.1
  17. Handa T (2006) Yucca gloriosa L. J Jpn Soc Reveg Technol 31:450 (in Japanese) Google Scholar
  18. Hann SW (1990) Evidence for the displacement of an endemic New Zealand spider, Latrodectus katipo Powell by the South African species Steatoda capensis Hann (Araneae: Theridiidae). New Zeal J Zool 17:295–307. doi: 10.1080/03014223.1990.10422937 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Jørgensen RH, Kollmann J (2009) Invasion of coastal dunes by the alien shrub Rosa rugosa is associated with roads, tracks and houses. Flora Morphol Distrib Funct Ecol Plants 204:289–297. doi: 10.1016/j.flora.2008.03.002 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. McKinney ML (2002) Urbanization, biodiversity, and conservation. Bioscience 52:883–890. doi:10.1641/0006-3568(2002)052[0883:UBAC]2.0.CO;2Google Scholar
  21. Metcalfe DC, Ridgeway PA (2013) A case of web entanglement and apparent predation of the skink Lampropholis delicata (De Vis, 1888) (Sauria: Scincidae: Lygosominae) by the red-back spider Latrodectus hasseltii Thorell, 1870 (Aranea: Araneomorpha: Theridiidae) in an autochthonous mesic habitat in coastal southeast Australia. Herpetol Notes 6:375–377Google Scholar
  22. Ministry of the Environment (ed)(2015) Red Data Book 2014: threatened wildlife of Japan Insecta, vol. 5. GYOSEI, Tokyo (in Japanese)Google Scholar
  23. Morse JG, Robertson CA (1987) Calculating canopy area of citrus trees and surface area of fruits. Florida Entomol 70:168–171CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Nihei N, Yoshida M, Kaneta H et al (2004) Analysis on the dispersal pattern of newly introduced Latrodectus hasseltii (Araneae: Theridiadae) in Japan by spider diagram. J Med Entomol 41:269–276. doi: 10.1603/0022-2585-41.3.269 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Nihei N, Komagata O, Yoshida M et al (2008) Effects of control measures on the prevalence of the redback spider Latrodectus hasseltii (Araneae: Theridiidae) in Nishinomiya City, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. Med Entomol Zool 59:153–162 (in Japanese with English summary) Google Scholar
  26. Nyffeler M, Dondale CD, Redner JH (1986) Evidence for displacement of a North American spider, Steatoda borealis (Hentz), by the European species S. bipunctata (Linnaeus) (Araneae: Theridiidae). Can J Zool 64:867–874CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. O’Shea EM, Kirkpatrick JB (2000) The impact of suburbanization on remnant coastal vegetation in Hobart, Tasmania. Appl Veg Sci 3:243–252. doi: 10.2307/1479003 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Ori M, Shinkai E, Ikeda H (1996) Introduction of widow spiders into Japan. Med Entomol Zool 47:111–119 (in Japanese with English summary) Google Scholar
  29. Patrick B (2002) Conservation status of the New Zealand red katipo spider (Latrodectus katipo Powell, 1871). Sci Conserv 194:1–33Google Scholar
  30. R Core Team (2014) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, ViennaGoogle Scholar
  31. Rentsch JD, Leebens-Mack J (2012) Homoploid hybrid origin of Yucca gloriosa: intersectional hybrid speciation in Yucca (Agavoideae, Asparagaceae). Ecol Evol 2:2213–2222. doi: 10.1002/ece3.328 PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Shahi M, Hosseini A, Shemshad K, Rafinejad J (2011) The occurrence of red-back spider Latrodectus hasselti (Araneae: Theridiidae) in Bandar Abbas, Southern Port of Iran. Iran J Arthropod Borne Dis 5:63–68PubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Shimizu H, Kanazawa I, Nishikawa Y (2014) A report on distributions of widow spiders, the genus Latrodectus (Arachnida), and dispersal of redback spider, L. hasselti, in Japan. Bull Osaka Mus Nat Hist 68:41–51 (in Japanese with English summary) Google Scholar
  34. Simberloff D, Von Holle B (1999) Positive interactions of nonindigenous species: invasional meltdown? Biol Invasions 1:21–32. doi: 10.1023/a:1010086329619 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Vink CJ, Derraik JGB, Phillips CB, Sirvid PJ (2010) The invasive Australian redback spider, Latrodectus hasseltii Thorell 1870 (Araneae: Theridiidae): current and potential distributions, and likely impacts. Biol Invasions 13:1003–1019. doi: 10.1007/s10530-010-9885-6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Japanese Society of Applied Entomology and Zoology 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Museum of Nature and Human ActivitiesSandaJapan
  2. 2.Center for Ecological ResearchKyoto UniversityOtsuJapan
  3. 3.Center for Environmental Biology and Ecosystem StudiesNational Institute for Environmental StudiesTsukubaJapan
  4. 4.Association for Biological Research on WildlifeThe University of TokyoMeguroJapan

Personalised recommendations