Alternative predatory tactics of an araneophagic assassin bug (Stenolemus bituberus)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Predators of dangerous prey risk being injured or killed in counter-attacks and hence may use risk-reducing predatory tactics. Spiders are often dangerous predators to insects, but for a few, including Stenolemus bituberus assassin bugs, web-building spiders are prey. Despite the dangers of counter-attack when hunting spiders, there has been surprisingly little investigation of the predatory tactics used by araneophagic (spider-eating) insects. Here, we compare the pursuit tendency, outcome and predatory tactics of S. bituberus against five species of web-building spider. We found that S. bituberus were most likely to hunt and capture spiders from the genus Achaearanea, a particularly common prey in nature. Capture of Achaearanea sp. was more likely if the prey spider was relatively small, or if S. bituberus was in poor condition. S. bituberus used two distinct predatory tactics, 'stalking', in which they slowly approached the prey, and 'luring', in which they attracted spiders by manipulating the web to generate vibrations. Tactics were tailored to the prey species, with luring used more often against spiders from the genus Achaearanea, and stalking used more often against Pholcus phalangioides. The choice of hunting tactic used by S. bituberus may reduce the risk posed by the prey spider.

LanguageEnglish
Pages23-27
Number of pages5
JournalActa Ethologica
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2009

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Reduviidae
spider
Araneae
Achaearanea
hunting
Pholcus
bug
predator
insect
predators
insects
vibration
ingestion

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abstract = "Predators of dangerous prey risk being injured or killed in counter-attacks and hence may use risk-reducing predatory tactics. Spiders are often dangerous predators to insects, but for a few, including Stenolemus bituberus assassin bugs, web-building spiders are prey. Despite the dangers of counter-attack when hunting spiders, there has been surprisingly little investigation of the predatory tactics used by araneophagic (spider-eating) insects. Here, we compare the pursuit tendency, outcome and predatory tactics of S. bituberus against five species of web-building spider. We found that S. bituberus were most likely to hunt and capture spiders from the genus Achaearanea, a particularly common prey in nature. Capture of Achaearanea sp. was more likely if the prey spider was relatively small, or if S. bituberus was in poor condition. S. bituberus used two distinct predatory tactics, 'stalking', in which they slowly approached the prey, and 'luring', in which they attracted spiders by manipulating the web to generate vibrations. Tactics were tailored to the prey species, with luring used more often against spiders from the genus Achaearanea, and stalking used more often against Pholcus phalangioides. The choice of hunting tactic used by S. bituberus may reduce the risk posed by the prey spider.",
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Alternative predatory tactics of an araneophagic assassin bug (Stenolemus bituberus). / Wignall, Anne E.; Taylor, Phillip W.

In: Acta Ethologica, Vol. 12, No. 1, 04.2009, p. 23-27.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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