Hunting Without a Web

How Lycosoid Spiders Subdue their Prey

Benjamin Eggs*, Jonas O. Wolff, Lucia Kuhn-Nentwig, Stanislav N. Gorb, Wolfgang Nentwig

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)


More than half of all spider species hunt prey without a web. To successfully subdue their prey, they use adapted capture behaviour and efficient grasping mechanisms to interrupt the prey's locomotion, and to restrain it from escaping during the subsequent handling for final envenomation. In this study, we investigated how the prey capture behaviour of different lycosoid spider species is related to leg morphology and venom efficiency; using high speed videography, feeding experiments, stereomicroscopy, scanning electron microscopy and LD50 venom bioassays. We found that different species employed different techniques when grasping their prey and these differences strongly correlate with the distribution and size of hairy adhesive leg pads (so-called scopulae on pro- and retrolateral parts of legs) and erectable spines, which act in a complementary way. Our results indicate that the grasping and handling behaviour and leg morphology is crucial in restricting the prey's movements. However, none of these traits is directly related with venom efficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1166-1177
Number of pages12
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Grate-shaped tapetum clade
  • Lycosoidea
  • Prey capture mechanisms

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