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Abstract

Management of a set of various prey received ‘simultaneously’ by the orb-weaving spider Zygiella x-notata is investigated in relation to prey species, weight, order of arrival in the web, and factors concerning the spider's state of nourishment.

When the spiders encountered several different prey ‘simultaneously’, they subdued all of them, took one of them to begin consumption, and stored the others in the web. The first item for consumption was chosen according to the characteristics of the available prey. Factors concerning previous feeding influenced the spiders's choice of the first item to be ingested.

Exploitation of the first item, estimated by the quantity of food extracted and the time necessary for this extraction, depended on the type and the quantity of prey at the spider's disposal. When the spiders received several prey, they spent less time feeding on the first cricket compared with spiders receiving only one cricket, while no difference was found when the first prey item exploited was a fly.