Foraging behavior of the Hawaiian happy face spider (Araneae: Theridiidae)

  • Gillespie R
  • Tabashnik B
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The Hawaiian happy face spider, Theridion grallator Simon, builds a flimsy web on the undersides of leaves. We compared the foraging behavior of T. grallator on three plant species (Broussaisia arguta, Clermontia arborescens and Hedychium sp.) that differed in number of associated arthropods, leaf area, and web area of the associated spiders. Specifically, we tested whether spiders exhibited specialization on particular prey, greater the tenacity on webs of larger area, greater site tenacity in microhabitats of locally abundant and predictable prey, and foraging activity beyond the confines of the web. We found no evidence of prey specialization or association of web-site tenacity with web area or locally abundant prey. Unexpectedly, web-site tenacity was related negatively to prey capture. The results supported the hypothesis that T. grallator freely forages away from the immediate web, and individual spiders frequently move to a new leaf to capture insects. We suggest that T. grallator may be capable of locating and capturing prey on a leaf other than its leaf of residence.

Author-supplied keywords

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  • the two extremes illustrated
  • theridion grallator
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  • PMID: 3661725
  • PUI: 2503301
  • SGR: 0028186258
  • SCOPUS: 2-s2.0-0028186258
  • ISSN: 00138746


  • Rosemary G. Gillespie

  • Bruce E. Tabashnik

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