A knife in the back: use of prey-specific attack tactics by araneophagic jumping spiders (Araneae: Salticidae)


Duane P. Harland, Canesis Network Ltd, Private Bag 4749, Christchurch, New Zealand.
Email: duane.harland@canesis.com


Three species of Portia (Portia africana from Kenya, Portia fimbriata from Australia and Portia labiata from the Philippines) were tested with flies Drosophila immigrans and Musca domestica and with web-building spiders Badumna longinquus and Pholcus phalangioides. Badumna longinquus has powerful chelicerae, but not especially long legs, whereas Ph. phalangioides has exceptionally long legs, but only small, weak chelicerae. Typically, Portia sighted flies, walked directly towards them and attacked without adjusting orientation. However, Portia's attacks on the spiders were aimed primarily at the cephalothorax instead of the legs or abdomen. Portia usually targeted the posterior-dorsal region of B. longinquus' cephalothorax by attacking this species from above and behind. When the prey was Ph. phalangioides, attack orientation was defined primarily by opportunistic gaps between this species' long legs (gaps through which Portia could contact the pholcid's body without contacting one of the pholcid's legs). Portia's attack strategy appears to be an adjustment to the different types of risk posed by different types of prey.