Cupiennius salei (Ctenidae) has been extensively studied for many years and is probably the only spider that presently can be considered a model organism for neuro-ethology. The night-active spiders have been shown to predominantly rely on their excellent mechano-sensory systems for courtship and prey capture, whereas vision was assumed to play a minor role, if any, in these behavioral contexts. Using slowly moving discs presented on a computer screen it could be shown for the first time that visual stimuli alone can elicit attack behavior (abrupt approaching reactions) in these spiders as well. These observations suggest that visual information could be used by the spiders to elicit and guide predatory behavior. Attack behavior in Cupiennius salei can thus be triggered independently by three sensory modalities—substrate vibrations, airflow stimuli, and visual cues—and offers an interesting model system to study the interactions of multimodal sensory channels in complex behavior.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Barth FG (1993) Sensory guidance in spider pre-copulatory behavior. Comp Biochem Physiol, A 104:717–733
Barth FG, Seyfarth E-A (1979) Cupiennius salei Keys. (Araneae) in the highlands of central Guatemala. J Arachnol 7:255–263
Barth FG, Bleckmann H, Bohnenberger J, Seyfarth E-A (1988) Spiders of the genus Cupiennius Simon 1891 (Araneae, Ctenidae) II. On the vibratory environment of a wandering spider. Oecologia 77:194–201
Barth FG, Nakagawa T, Eguchi E (1993) Vision in the ctenid spider Cupiennius salei: spectral range and absolute sensitivity. J Exp Biol 181:63–80
Barth FG, Humphrey JAC, Wastl U, Halbritter J, Brittinger W (1995) Dynamics of arthropod filiform hairs. III. Flow patterns related to air movement detection in a spider (Cupiennius salei Keys.). Philos Trans R Soc Lond B 347:397–412
Coddington J, Sobrevila C (1987) Web manipulation and two stereotyped attack behaviors in the ogre-faced spider Deinopis spinosus Marx (Araneae, Deinopidae). J Arachnol 15:213–225
Fenk LM, Schmid A (2010) The orientation-dependent visual spatial cut-off frequency in a spider. J Exp Biol 213:3111–3117
Forster LM (1979) Visual mechanisms of hunting behavior in Trite planiceps, a jumping spider (Araneae: Salticidae). N Z J Zool 6:79–83
Forster LM (1982) Non-visual prey-capture in Trite planiceps, a jumping spider (Araneae, Salticidae). J Arachnol 10:179–183
Hergenröder R, Barth FG (1983) The release of attack and escape behavior by vibratory stimuli in a wandering spider (Cupiennius salei Keys.). J Comp Physiol A 152:347–359
Homann H (1928) Beiträge zur Physiologie der Spinnenaugen. Z vergl Physiol 7:201–268
Jackson RR, Nelson XJ, Sune GO (2005) A spider that feeds indirectly on vertebrate blood by choosing female mosquitoes as prey. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 102:15155–15160
Land MF, Barth FG (1992) The quality of vision in the ctenid spider Cupiennius salei. J Exp Biol 164:227–242
Lettvin JY, Maturana HR, McCulloch WS, Pitts WH (1959) What the frog’s eye tells the frog’s brain. Proc Inst Radio Engr 47:1940–1951
Lizotte RS, Rovner JS (1988) Nocturnal capture of fireflies by lycosid spiders: visual versus vibratory stimuli. Anim Behav 36:1809–1815
Melchers M (1963) Zur Biologie und zum Verhalten von Cupiennius salei (Keyserling), einer amerikanischen Ctenide. Zool Jb Syst 91:1–90
Nakata K, Zschokke S (2010) Upside-down spiders build upside-down orb webs: web asymmetry, spider orientation and running speed in Cyclosa. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B: doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.0729
Neuhofer D, Machan R, Schmid A (2009) Visual perception of motion in a hunting spider. J Exp Biol 212:2819–2823
Persons MH, Uetz GW (1996a) The influence of sensory information on patch residence time in wolf spiders (Araneae: Lycosidae). Anim Behav 51:1285–1293
Persons MH, Uetz GW (1996b) Wolf spiders vary patch residence time in the presence of chemical cues from prey (Araneae, Lycosidae). J Arachnol 24:76–79
Persons M, Uetz G (1997) The effect of prey movement on attack behavior and patch residence decision rules of wolf spiders (Araneae: Lycosidae). J Insect Behav 10:737–752
Schmid A (1997) A visually induced switch in mode of locomotion of a spider. Z Naturforsch C 52c:124–128
Schmid A (1998) Different functions of different eye types in the spider Cupiennius salei. J Exp Biol 201:221–225
Schmitt A, Schuster M, Barth FG (1990) Daily locomotor activity patterns in three species of Cupiennius (Araneae, Ctenidae): the males are the wandering spiders. J Arachnol 18:249–255
Strausfeld NJ, Barth FG (1993) Two visual systems in one brain: neuropils serving the secondary eyes of the spider Cupiennius salei. J Comp Neurol 328:43–62
Strausfeld NJ, Weltzien P, Barth FG (1993) Two visual systems in one brain: neuropils serving the principal eyes of the spider Cupiennius salei. J Comp Neurol 328:63–75
Taylor PW, Jackson RR, Robertson MW (1998) A case of blind spider’s buff? Prey-capture by jumping spiders (Araneae, Salticidae) in the absence of visual cues. J Arachnol 26:369–381
Tiedemann K (1993) Visual brightness discrimination of the jumping spider Menemerus bivittatus (Araneae, Salticidae). J Arachnol 21:1–5
Uetz GW, Roberts JA (2002) Multisensory cues and multimodal communication in spiders: Insights from video/audio playback studies. Brain Behav Evol 59:222–230
Zeil J (2000) Depth cues, behavioural context, and natural illumination: some potential limitations of video playback techniques. Acta Ethol 3:39–48
We want to thank FG Barth for stimulating discussions. LM Fenk is recipient of a DOC-fFORTE-fellowship of the Austrian Academy of Sciences at the Department of Neurobiology, University of Vienna. Care and use of the animals comply with the Austrian animal welfare laws, guidelines and policies.
Electronic supplementary material
Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.
Supplementary material 1 (MPG 12024 kb)
Rights and permissions
About this article
Cite this article
Fenk, L.M., Hoinkes, T. & Schmid, A. Vision as a third sensory modality to elicit attack behavior in a nocturnal spider. J Comp Physiol A 196, 957–961 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00359-010-0575-8
- Attack behavior
- Computer screen