Philoponella vicina O. Pickard-Cambridge 1899 rests on its orb web in a cryptic posture with its legs folded against its body. While feeding, the spider coats the entire prey with digestive fluid and changes its posture, spreading its anterior legs wide. We tested whether this change in leg position may function to protect against damage to its legs from its own digestive fluid. When we touched detached legs I with prey packages wetted with digestive fluid, more setae fell from the legs than when we applied tap water in a similar manner. In addition, intersegmental membranes were damaged by digestive fluid, but not by water. This and other uloborids may thus break their cryptic postures while feeding in order to avoid damage from their own digestive enzymes.
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Vol. 40 • No. 1