The evolution of sociality in the spitting spider, Scytodes fusca (Araneae: Scytodidae)—evidence from observations of intraspecific interactions



The intraspecific behaviour of the communal-territorial spitting spider, Scytodes fusca, from North Queensland, Australia, is described from laboratory observations. This spider is tolerant of most conspecific intruders on the web but adults, particularly females, do display aggression to other adults by charging, chasing and spitting. During courtship, both the male and the female tap on the web. Courtship in S. fusca is similar to that of a non-social scytodid Scytodes thoracica. Males often stay with the female for a time after mating. Adults appear to be more cannibalistic toward third than toward first and second instar juveniles, This finding is discussed in relation to the mechanisms of intraspecific recognition. The social behaviour of S. fusca is compared with that of other scytodids and the possible evolution of sociality in S. fusca from the parent offspring association is discussed.