The function of silk web decorations in orb weaving spiders has been debated for decades. The most accepted hypothesized functions are that web decorations 1) provide camouflage against predators, 2) are an advertisement for vertebrates to avoid web damage, or 3) increase the attraction of prey to the web. Most studies have focused on only a few genera, Argiope being the most common. In this study, I evaluated the prey attraction hypothesis of silk decorations for a species of a poorly studied genus in this topic, Micrathena sexpinosa Hahn 1822. I used a web-choice experiment in which I presented empty or web-bearing frames at the end of a tunnel to stingless bees (Tetragonisca angustula). This frame-choice experiment consisted of the following comparisons: decorated web vs. empty frame, decorated web vs. undecorated web, and undecorated web vs. empty frame. Webs with decoration intercepted significantly more bees than empty frames and undecorated webs. Therefore, the decorations of Micrathena sexpinosa might play a role in increasing foraging success.
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Vol. 39 • No. 1