Capturing unusually profitable prey early in life potentially enhances one's future fecundity and survival. Newly emerged crab spiderlings Misumena vatia (Araneae: Thomisidae) occasionally capture prey that greatly exceed them in size. I attempted to evaluate what if any long-term advantage these kills provided by presenting naïve, just-emerged spiderlings with syrphid flies Toxomerus marginatus that exceeded the initial mass of the spiderlings six-fold, a prey that the spiderlings occasionally captured in the field. A second group of spiderlings received a single syrphid initially and subsequently a single fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster every other day, and a control group received a fruit fly every other day. The few spiderlings that regularly captured the syrphids gained significantly more mass than the other groups. Individuals taking an initial syrphid and then fruit flies did not gain more mass than controls fed on solely on fruit flies. Neither did a group of spiderlings followed in the field nor a small group of individuals fed multiple fruit flies every other day in the laboratory differ in growth rates from the syrphid fruit fly or single fruit fly groups. Thus, capture of a single bonanza prey does not provide the spiderlings with a significant advantage over those that did not obtain this reward, and in the field they probably do not manage to duplicate the capture success of the surviving members of the syrphid-only group.
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Vol. 38 • No. 2