Predaceous arthropods such as spiders are often adapted to hunting sites where their hunting success is greatest. We investigated the responses of two spiders to phytochemical cues that they potentially experience while hunting on leaves or flowers, and how these cues could influence their decisions where to forage. We compared the behavior of two sit-and-wait predators, Pisaura mirabilis and Misumena vatia, which hunt predominantly in the vegetation or on flowers, respectively. In choice tests, P. mirabilis frequently preferred leaves and leaf extracts to flowers and floral extracts and avoided substrates treated with the common floral scents β-caryophyllene and nerolidol (sesquiterpenes) in natural concentrations. In contrast, M. vatia did not show any preferences for any of the substrates and treatments offered. The lack of responses by M. vatia contrasts with earlier studies on another crab spider species (Thomisus spectabilis) that used phytochemical cues as a guide to rewarding flowers. The avoidance of many flowers, their extracts, and the floral scent compounds by P. mirabilis suggests that these cues may prevent the visitation by this and other generalised predators that potentially decrease the pollination success of a plant.
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Vol. 39 • No. 1