Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 49–54 | Cite as

Social spider defense against kleptoparasitism

  • Karen R. Cangialosi


Because of the large amount of webbing they provide, social spider colonies often host other satellite spider species referred to as kleptoparasites or food stealers. Such kleptoparasites may take advantage of increased prey capture rates associated with large spider aggregations. This study investigated the relationship between a cooperatively social spider species, Anelosimus eximius (Araneae: Theridiidae), which lives in the undergrowth of tropical rainforests in Peru, and its kleptoparasite, Argyrodes ululans (Araneae: Theridiidae), which specializes in foraging in An. eximius webs. Although large aggregates of spiders may be more attractive to kleptoparasites, the benefits of group defense may offset this cost. Natural colonies were observed, and enclosed field colonies containing fixed numbers of host spiders were manipulated in order to determine whether kleptoparasite success is affected by the number of social spiders that are available for defense. Prey was less likely to be stolen by Ar. ululans when a greater number of host An. eximius spiders were involved in prey capture. When hosts detected a kleptoparasite earlier and chased it more often, prey was more likely to be successfully defended. Ar. ululans was more successful in stealing small prey items in all colonies and gave up more readily on very large prey (> 11 mm). I conclude that communal living and group defense in An. eximius confer protection from the kleptoparasite Ar. ululans.


Capture Rate Tropical Rainforest Prey Capture Large Prey Small Prey 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karen R. Cangialosi
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyMiami UniversityOxfordUSA

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