Reeling in the prey: fishing behaviour in an orb web spider

Dinesh Rao, Horacio Tapia-McClung, Ajay Narendra

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)
    15 Downloads (Pure)


    When an insect is intercepted by a spider web, spiders quickly locate the prey and run towards it. Once they make contact with the prey, they immobilise it and retrieve it to the centre of the web or the retreat for consumption. However, in rare circumstances, the spider can also pull the prey towards itself either while running to the prey or from a stationary position, a behaviour termed as 'reeling'. Reeling is paradoxical as it can lead to web deformation or damage, thereby jeopardising future foraging success. Reeling may increase the retention time for heavier prey or information acquisition with respect to the prey's identity, especially when these prey can cause damage to either the web or the spider itself. We explored the function of reeling behaviour in a neotropical orb web spider Verrucosa arenata We show that spiders performed reeling behaviour irrespective whether they were approaching heavy or light prey, but they changed their trajectories of approach. Spiders approached heavier prey more slowly than light prey and they showed a significantly higher frequency of change in velocity. We discuss these findings in the context of prey capture strategies and prey recognition.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numberjeb213751
    Pages (from-to)1-9
    Number of pages9
    JournalThe Journal of experimental biology
    Issue number24
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019

    Bibliographical note

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    • Spider web
    • Locomotion
    • Predator–prey interactions


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