Predatory behaviour and parental care in Argyrodes flavipes, a social spider from Queensland


All correspondence to: Dr Mary E. A. Whitehouse, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, The Mitrani Center for Desert Ecology, Sede Boquer Campus, 84990 Israel


Argyrodes flavipes illustrates a novel form of highly social behaviour in spiders. Although A. flavipes lives in groups, forages communally, and has parental care, it is also highly aggressive towards conspecifics. These observations, plus the relatively small group sizes, suggest that sociality in these animals may be more akin to that in social mammalian carnivores than in social insects. Most highly social spiders are thought to have developed sociality via the sub-social route because of their high level of parental care. Although A. flavipes also exhibits high levels of parental care, its phylogenetic background and the fact that it needs to defend its young from conspecifics, suggest that both sub-social and para-social factors may have influenced its social development.