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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: BIOLOGICALLY BASED PEST MANAGEMENT FOR FIELD AND GREENHOUSE CROPS Title: Characterization of restricted area searching behavior following consumption of prey and non-prey food in a cursorial spider, Hibana futilis

Authors
item Patt, Joseph
item Pfannenstiel, Robert

Submitted to: Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: April 1, 2009
Publication Date: June 8, 2009
Citation: Patt, J.M., Pfannenstiel, R.S. 2009. Characterization of restricted area searching behavior following consumption of prey and non-prey food in a cursorial spider, Hibana futilis. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata. 132:13-30.

Interpretive Summary: Hunting spiders are important predators of crop pests in a variety of agricultural systems. Their survival, growth, and fecundity can be enhanced by the consumption of extra-floral nectar. We recently showed that a hunting spider species, Hibana futilis, which is common in Texan cotton and other field crops, engages in localized searching behavior following contact with nectar, is stimulated by nectar aroma, and can learn to recognize novel aroma cues. Studies have shown that this spider is also responsive to solvent extracts of the eggs and scales of the corn earworm, Helicoverpa zea Boddie (Lepidoptera:Noctuidae), one of its primary prey insects in cotton. The arrestment behavior of cursorial spiders following consumption of prey and non-prey food has not been characterized. In the present study, the responses of spiders were measured following consumption of prey (H. zea eggs) or non-prey (droplets of diluted honey) food items and compared to individuals tested without food items. The food items were presented to the spiders in test arenas constructed from the top of an inverted glass Petri dish cover. A combination of real time and recorded observations were made via a video camera attached to a PC computer. The behavioral tracking software, EthoVision software (Noldus Information Technology, the Netherlands), was used to analyze the behaviors and movement patterns of individual spiders. Significant differences in the behaviors and motion paths of spiders tested in the different treatments were observed. H. futilis released on a blank test arena displayed significantly more dispersal behavior than spiders released on test arenas supplied with honey or moth eggs. Likewise, spiders tested on the blank arena crawled faster and their motion paths were significantly less tortuous than those of spiders tested in the arenas with honey droplets or moth eggs. Following consumption of both the honey droplets and moth eggs, spiders showed elevated levels of restricted area search and lowered levels of dispersal behavior. The analysis showed that these spiders could crawl rapidly for extended distances. Behaviors such as localized search and learned recognition of food-based stimuli would facilitate efficient location of the food resources needed to maintain their high activity levels.

Technical Abstract: Cursorial spiders are important predators of crop pests in a variety of agricultural systems. Their survivorship, growth, and fecundity can be enhanced by the consumption of extra-floral nectar. We recently showed that Hibana futilis Banks (Araneae:Anyphaenidae) engages in restricted area search following contact with nectar, is stimulated by nectar aroma, and can learn to recognize novel aroma cues. Studies have shown that H. futilis is also responsive to solvent extracts of the eggs and scales of the corn earworm, Helicoverpa zea Boddie (Lepidoptera:Noctuidae), one of its primary prey insects in cotton. The arrestment behavior of cursorial spiders following consumption of prey and non-prey food has not been characterized. In the present study, the responses of spiders were measured following consumption of prey (H. zea eggs) or non-prey (droplets of diluted honey) food items and compared to individuals tested without food items. The food items were presented to the spiders in test arenas constructed from the top of an inverted glass Petri dish cover. A combination of real time and recorded observations were made via a video camera attached to a PC computer. The behavioral tracking software, EthoVision software (Noldus Information Technology, the Netherlands), was used to analyze the behaviors and movement patterns of individual spiders. Significant differences in the behaviors and motion paths of spiders tested in the different treatments were observed. H. futilis released on a blank test arena displayed significantly more dispersal behavior than spiders released on test arenas supplied with honey or moth eggs. Likewise, spiders tested on the blank arena crawled faster and their motion paths were significantly less tortuous than those of spiders tested in the arenas with honey or moth eggs. Following consumption of both the honey droplets and moth eggs, spiders showed elevated levels of restricted area search and lowered levels of dispersal behavior. The analysis showed that these spiders could crawl rapidly for extended distances. Behaviors such as restricted area search and learned recognition of food-based stimuli would facilitate efficient location of the food resources needed to maintain their high activity levels.

Last Modified: 12/22/2014
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