Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 79–85 | Cite as

Social spiders catch larger prey: a study of Anelosimus eximius (Araneae: Theridiidae)

  • Wolfgang Nentwig


During a 1-year-study in tropical Panama, prey of the social theridiid Anelosimus eximius was analysed at two locations and compared with the potential prey spectrum according to sweepnet catches, pitfall traps and bowl traps. Compared with other web-building spiders, A. eximius catch an unusually high number of large insects: about 90% are flying ants, beetles,lepidopterans hemipterans, cockroaches and grasshoppers. This is the result of a communal strategy to overwhelm prey. Webs are maintained commonly, and several spiders attack an entangled insect simultaneously. More spiders participate on insects that are larger and struggle more. The ability to catch large prey insects is discussed as a major driving factor for sociality in spiders.


Communal Strategy Pitfall Trap Large Prey Potential Prey Drive Factor 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wolfgang Nentwig
    • 1
  1. 1.Fachbereich Biologie/Zoologie der UniversitätMarburgFederal Republic of Germany

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