Detection of prey by a spider that aggressively mimics pheromone blends

K. F. Haynes, K. V. Yeargan, C. Gemeno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Adult female bolas spiders have a unique hunting tactic that combines aggressive chemical mimicry of the sex pheromone blends of their prey moths with a specialized weapon (the bolas) and behaviors to capture attracted male moths. This report shows that female bolas spiders can release the attractive allomone before they make the bolas and that females detect moth wing vibrations from attracted prey. In response to this detection, females initiate the construction of a bolas. This ability to sample for prey presence may allow this predator to adapt its hunting activity to the temporal and spatial availability of its prey and, thereby, may reduce the constraints associated with extreme prey specialization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-544
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Insect Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank B. Chastain, K. Johnson, and S. Mayes for their technical assistance. R. Hunt and H. Yan helped with recording and analyzing wing beats of moths. D. H. Wise and R. Lopez reviewed an early draft of the manuscript. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant IBN-97-22828 and the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station (paper No. 99-08-089).


  • Aggressive mimicry
  • Bolas spiders
  • Mastophora
  • Predation
  • Sex pheromones
  • Wing vibration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Insect Science


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