Spitting spiders, Scytodes spp., rapidly expectorate a zig-zag of silk from cephalothoracic glands through openings at the base of their fangs, tacking down prey before feeding. Previously, scavenging of dead prey was considered rare among the Araneae but, in laboratory bioassays, it is exhibited across a wide spectrum of spiders including Scytodes Latreille 1804. When presented with dead spiders as prey, two species of araneophagic Scytodes spiders secured their meals without deploying the probably metabolically expensive cephalothoracic silk in 25 of 30 feeding episodes. Scytodes globula Nicolet 1849 scavenged without spitting in 16 of 30 trials (53%), whereas S. atlacoya Rheims et al. 2007 did so in 9 of 36 trials (25%). Therefore, spitting spiders show behavioral plasticity in securing prey, conserving resources when necessary.
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Vol. 41 • No. 3