Timid spider uses odor and visual cues to actively select protected nesting sites near ants

Abstract

Associations in which a more vulnerable species gains protection by seeking out the company of a pugnacious “protector” species capable of deterring predators are documented among mixed-species groups from various taxa, but experimental studies are rare. We consider an unusual arthropod-based example in which the associate species, Phintella piantensis, is a jumping spider (Salticidae) that associates with the territorial weaver ant Oecophylla smaragdina, which in turn is a potential predator of Phintella. However, the predator we consider in this mixed-species association is Scytodes sp., a spitting spider (Scytodae) that often targets salticids as prey. Scytodes adopts a strategy of building its web over salticid nests and then preying on resident salticids when they leave or return to their nests. Our experiments show that, on the basis of olfactory cues, Scytodes is deterred from the vicinity of O. smaragdina. Phintella builds dense ant-proof nests to minimize the risk of being killed by Oecophylla, and we show that olfactory as well as visual cues of ants elicit nest building by Phintella. We propose that Phintella actively chooses to situate nests in the vicinity of weaver ants as defense against a specific ant-averse predator that singles out salticids as preferred prey.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

References

  1. Allan RA, Elgar MA (2001) Exploitation of the green tree ant, Oecophylla smaragdina, by the salticid spider Cosmophasis bitaeniata. Aust J Zool 49:129–137

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Allan RA, Elgar MA, Capon RJ (1996) Exploitation of an ant chemical alarm signal by the zodariid spider Habronestes bradleyi Walckenaer. Proc R Soc Lond B 263:69–73

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Bogliani G, Sergio F, Tavecchia G (1999) Woodpigeons nesting in association with hobby falcons: advantages and choice rules. Anim Behav 57:125–131

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Burger J (1984) Grebes nesting in gull colonies: protective associations and early warning. Am Nat 123:327–337

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Campobello D, Sara M, Hare JF (2012) Under my wing: lesser kestrels and jackdaws derive reciprocal benefits in mixed-species colonies. Behav Ecol 23:425–433

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Caro T (2005) Antipredator defenses in birds and mammals. University of Chicago Press, Chicago

    Google Scholar 

  7. Crozier RH, Newey PS, Schluns EA, Robson SKA (2010) A masterpiece of evolution—Oecophylla weaver ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Myrmecol News 13:57–71

    Google Scholar 

  8. Cushing PE (1997) Myrmecomorphy and myrmecophily in spiders: a review. Fla Entomol 80:165–193

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Cushing PE (2012) Spider-ant associations: an updated review of myrmecomorphy, myrmecophily, and myrmecophagy in spiders. Psyche 2012: Article ID 151989

  10. Edmunds M (2006) Do Malaysian Myrmarachne associate with particular species of ant? Biol J Linn Soc 88:645–653

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Fiedler K, Maschwitz U (1989) the symbiosis between the weaver ant, Oecophylla-smaragdina, and Anthene emolus, an obligate myrmecophilous lycaenid butterfly. J Nat Hist 23:833–846

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Gilbert C, Rayor LS (1985) Predatory behaviour of spitting spiders (Araneae: Scytodidae) and the evolution of prey wrapping. J Arachnol 13:231–241

    Google Scholar 

  13. Harland DP, Jackson RR, Macnab AM (1999) Distances at which jumping spiders (Araneae: Salticidae) distinguish between prey and conspecific rivals. J Zool 247:357–364

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Harland DP, Li D, Jackson RR (2012) How jumping spiders see the world. In: Lazareva OF, Shimizu T, Wasserman EA (eds) How animals see the world: comparative behavior, biology, and evolution of vision. Oxford University Press, New York, pp 133–164

    Google Scholar 

  15. Hodge MA, Uetz GW (1992) Antipredator benefits of single-species and mixed-species grouping by Nephila clavipes (L) (Araneae, Tetragnathidae). J Arachnol 20:212–216

    Google Scholar 

  16. Hölldobler B (1983) Territorial behavior in the green tree ant (Oecophylla smaragdina). Biotropica 15:241–250

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Iyengar EV (2008) Kleptoparasitic interactions throughout the animal kingdom and a re-evaluation, based on participant mobility, of the conditions promoting the evolution of kleptoparasitism. Biol J Linn Soc 93:745–762

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Jackson RR, Nelson XJ (2012) Specialized exploitation of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) by spiders (Araneae). Myrmecol News 17:33–49

    Google Scholar 

  19. Li D (2002) Hatching responses of subsocial spitting spiders to predation risk. Proc R Soc Lond B 269:2155–2161

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Li D, Jackson RR (2005) Influence of diet-related chemical cues from predators on the hatching of egg-carrying spiders. J Chem Ecol 31:333–342

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Li D, Jackson RR, Barrion AT (1999) Parental and predatory behaviour of Scytodes sp., an araneophagic spitting spider (Araneae: Scytodidae) from the Philippines. J Zool 247:293–310

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Martins DJ, Collins SC, Congdon C, Pierce NE (2013) Association between the African lycaenid, Anthene usamba, and an obligate acacia ant, Crematogaster mimosae. Biol J Linn Soc 109:302–312

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Mooney KA, Mandal K (2010) Competition hierarchies among ants and predation by birds jointly determine the strength of multi-species ant-aphid mutualisms. Oikos 119:874–882

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Nelson XJ, Jackson RR (2006) Vision-based innate aversion to ants and ant mimics. Behav Ecol 17:676–681

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Nelson XJ, Jackson RR (2009) The influence of ants on the mating strategy of a myrmecophilic jumping spider (Araneae, Salticidae). J Nat Hist 43:713–735

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Nelson XJ, Warui CM, Jackson RR (2012) Widespread reliance on olfactory sex and species identification by lyssomanine and spartaeine jumping spiders. Biol J Linn Soc 107:664–677

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Nelson XJ, Jackson RR, Edwards GB, Barrion AT (2005) Living with the enemy: jumping spiders that mimic weaver ants. J Arachnol 33:813–819

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Nelson XJ, Jackson RR, Pollard SD, Edwards GB, Barrion AT (2004) Predation by ants on jumping spiders (Araneae: Salticidae) in the Philippines. N Z J Zool 31:45–56

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Nentwig W (1985) Feeding ecology of the tropical spitting spider Scytodes longipes (Araneae, Scytodidae). Oecologia 65:284–288

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Offenberg J, Cuc NTT, Wiwatwitaya D (2013) The effectiveness of weaver ant (Oecophylla smaragdina) biocontrol in Southeast Asian citrus and mango. Asian Myrmecol 5:139–149

    Google Scholar 

  31. Quinn JL, Kokorev Y (2002) Trading-off risks from predators and from aggressive hosts. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 51:455–460

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Quinn JL, Ueta M (2008) Protective nesting associations in birds. Ibis 150:146–167

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Quinn JL, Prop J, Kokorev Y, Black JM (2003) Predator protection or similar habitat selection in red-breasted goose nesting associations: extremes along a continuum. Anim Behav 65:297–307

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Ruxton G, Sherratt T, Speed M (2004) Avoiding attack: the evolutionary ecology of crypsis, warning signals and mimicry. Oxford University Press, Oxford

    Book  Google Scholar 

  35. Saarinen EV (2006) Differences in worker caste behaviour of Oecophylla smaragdina (Hymenoptera : Formicidae) in response to larvae of Anthene emolus (Lepidoptera : Lycaenidae). Biol J Linn Soc 88:391–395

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Somavilla A, Fernandes IO, Oliveira ML, Silveira OT (2013) Association among wasps’ colonies, ants and birds in Central Amazonian. Biota Neotrop 13:308–313

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Stensland E, Angerbjörn A, Berggren P (2003) Mixed species groups in mammals. Mammal Rev 33:205–223

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ximena J. Nelson.

Additional information

Communicated by M. Elgar

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Nelson, X.J., Jackson, R.R. Timid spider uses odor and visual cues to actively select protected nesting sites near ants. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 68, 773–780 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-014-1690-2

Download citation

Keywords

  • Mixed-species association
  • Protector species
  • Antipredator defense
  • Protective association
  • Myrmecophily
  • Salticid