A spider that feeds indirectly on vertebrate blood by choosing female mosquitoes as prey

October 10, 2005
102 (42) 15155-15160

Abstract

Spiders do not feed directly on vertebrate blood, but a small East African jumping spider (Salticidae), Evarcha culicivora, feeds indirectly on vertebrate blood by choosing as preferred prey female mosquitoes that have had recent blood meals. Experiments show that this spider can identify its preferred prey by sight alone and by odor alone. When presented with two types of size-matched motionless lures, E. culicivora consistently chose blood-fed female mosquitoes in preference to nonmosquito prey, male mosquitoes, and sugar-fed female mosquitoes (i.e., females that had not been feeding on blood). When the choice was between mosquitoes of different sizes (both blood- or both sugar-fed), small juveniles chose the smaller prey, whereas adults and larger juveniles chose the larger prey. However, preference for blood took precedence over preference for size (i.e., to get a blood meal, small individuals took prey that were larger than the preferred size, and larger individuals took prey that were smaller than the preferred size). When presented with odor from two prey types, E. culicivora approached the odor from blood-fed female mosquitoes significantly more often the odor of the prey that were not carrying blood.

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Acknowledgments

We are grateful to Hans Herren, Louis-Clement Gouagna, John Githure, Bart Knols, and Charles Mwenda for the numerous ways in which they supported the research. Stephen Alluoch, Silas Ouko Orima, Jane Atieno, and Aynsley Macnab provided invaluable technical assistance. For taxonomic assistance, we thank Arthur Harrison, G. B. Edwards, Louis-Clement Gouagna, Elchin Gueseinov, and Aruna Manrakhan. Voucher specimens have been deposited at the Florida State Collection of Arthropods in Gainesville, FL; at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology; and at the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi. We thank Simon Pollard and Andy Pratt for helpful comments on the manuscript. This research was funded in part by grants from the Marsden Fund of the New Zealand Royal Society and by the National Geographic Society.

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Information & Authors

Information

Published in

Go to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Vol. 102 | No. 42
October 18, 2005
PubMed: 16217015

Classifications

Submission history

Received: January 24, 2005
Published online: October 10, 2005
Published in issue: October 18, 2005

Keywords

  1. predation
  2. Salticidae
  3. prey choice
  4. behavior

Acknowledgments

We are grateful to Hans Herren, Louis-Clement Gouagna, John Githure, Bart Knols, and Charles Mwenda for the numerous ways in which they supported the research. Stephen Alluoch, Silas Ouko Orima, Jane Atieno, and Aynsley Macnab provided invaluable technical assistance. For taxonomic assistance, we thank Arthur Harrison, G. B. Edwards, Louis-Clement Gouagna, Elchin Gueseinov, and Aruna Manrakhan. Voucher specimens have been deposited at the Florida State Collection of Arthropods in Gainesville, FL; at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology; and at the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi. We thank Simon Pollard and Andy Pratt for helpful comments on the manuscript. This research was funded in part by grants from the Marsden Fund of the New Zealand Royal Society and by the National Geographic Society.

Authors

Affiliations

Robert R. Jackson
School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, New Zealand; International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, Nairobi, Kenya; and Department of Psychology, Macquarie University, Sydney NSW 2109, Australia
Ximena J. Nelson
School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, New Zealand; International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, Nairobi, Kenya; and Department of Psychology, Macquarie University, Sydney NSW 2109, Australia
Godfrey O. Sune
School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, New Zealand; International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, Nairobi, Kenya; and Department of Psychology, Macquarie University, Sydney NSW 2109, Australia

Notes

To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: [email protected].
Communicated by Hans R. Herren, Nairobi, Kenya, August 30, 2005

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    A spider that feeds indirectly on vertebrate blood by choosing female mosquitoes as prey
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
    • Vol. 102
    • No. 42
    • pp. 14937-15270

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