Silk feeding as an alternative foraging tactic in a kleptoparasitic spider under seasonally changing environments
Spiders of the genus Argyrodes are kleptoparasites that steal prey from other web spiders. Recent studies have shown that in addition to stealing prey, they occasionally eat the silk of the host spider webs. How Argyrodes alters the two foraging tactics in the field is still unknown. The foraging behaviour of Argyrodes flavescens was observed in the south-western part of Japan where prey availability changes greatly with season. Silk-eating behaviour was commonly observed when insect prey availability on host webs was low, but when prey was abundant, only prey-stealing behaviour was observed. Spiders spent more time feeding on silk than on prey when prey was scarce. Moreover, in the season when most individuals fed on silk, only a small portion of individuals consumed prey. These results suggest that silk eating is an important alternative foraging tactic under seasonally changing environments.(Accepted July 23 2003)
Key Words: parasite; host; spider; prey availability; Argyrodes.
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