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Keywords:

  • sub-lethal;
  • predator;
  • insecticide;
  • hunting;
  • prey capture;
  • cypermethrin

Abstract

Pesticides can modify invertebrate movement and feeding behaviour which could reduce predation in agroecosystems. Previous assays have exposed the spider Pardosa amentata (Clerck) to the synthetic pyrethroid cypermethrin and monitored prey items consumed in small containers (requiring very little movement to capture prey). The current study used larger arenas containing artificial ‘vegetation’ (a plastic analogue) to encourage spiders to hunt and capture prey. The period 24 h after exposure produced greatest variability in prey item consumption between treatments and was used to examine treatment effects. At this time, cypermethrin reduced prey consumption rates but these effects did not persist. Findings did not suggest that the presence of artificial vegetation in arenas modified prey consumption rates, which was consistent for individuals treated with cypermethrin and a control group. This is despite the majority of pesticide-treated individuals exhibiting both ataxia and paralysis of the hind legs (these effects persisting for a maximum of 3 and 6 days respectively). These findings were consistent for both sexes. Spider longevity under starvation conditions was not significantly reduced by cypermethrin exposure but overall females survived longer than males. The findings are discussed in the context of the arenas used and the ecology of this common predator. Copyright © 2005 Society of Chemical Industry