Aggregation Behavior in Spiderlings: a Strategy for Increasing Life Expectancy in Latrodectus geometricus (Araneae: Theridiidae)


  • William Fernando Antonialli-Junior Universidade Estadual de Mato Grosso do Sul
  • Ingrid Guimarães State University of Mato Grosso do Sul



Hourglass spider, cannibalism, survival


Studies on the biology of Latrodectus geometricus are scarce, especially on the behavior and life expectancy of the species. In this study we investigated the importance of the aggregation behavior of juveniles on life expectancy and longevity of the species. Egg sacs were collected in the urban area of Dourados- MS and transferred to the laboratory. The spiderlings hatched were separated into two groups: spiderlings aggregated and isolated, kept in the presence of luminosity. The same tests were run with egg sacs deprived of luminosity. A calculation of entropy was performed for all cases. Individuals grouped held under light exposure showed 14.3 days of life expectancy and 46 maximum longevity and 14.8 days of life expectancy and 32 days of longevity when isolated. For individuals grouped and deprived of light life expectancy was 29.8 days and maximum longevity 85 days and 19.3 days of life expectancy and 26 days of maximum longevity when isolated. The entropy of individuals kept in the presence of light, when grouped was H=0.692 and when isolated H=0.377. For individuals deprived of light, the entropy was H = 0.628 when kept grouped and H = 0.143 when isolated. Therefore it is concluded that the aggregation behavior and luminosity influence the longevity and life expectancy of spiderlings. Cannibalism must be a strategy to acquire food reserves contributing to the survival of a small number of individuals.


Download data is not yet available.


Abalos, J.W. 1962. The Egg-sac in the Identification of Species of Latrodectus (Black-Widow Spiders). Psyche 69:268-270.

Albuquerque, H.N., I.C.S. Albuquerque, A. Ribeiro & I.R. Menezes. 2005. Presença de Latrodectus geometricus C.L. Koch, 1841 e Latrodectus curacaviensis Müller, 1776 (Araneae, Theridiidae) em Campina Gande-PB. Revista de Biologia e Ciências da Terra 5:0.

Andrade, M.C.B. 1996. Sexual selection for male sacrifice in the Australian redback spider. Science 271:70-72.

Andrade, M.C.B. 2003. Risky mate search and male self-sacrifice in redback spiders. Behavioral Ecology 14:531-538.

Baerg, W.J. 1923. The black widow: its life history and the effects of its poison. Science Monthly 17:535-547.

Belles, I.J.C. & G.J. Fitzgerald. 1993. A fitness advantage of cannibalism in female sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus L.). Ethology Ecology & Evolution 5:187-191.

Brown, K.S., J.S. Necaise & J. Goddard. 2008. Additions to the Known U.S. Distribution of Latrodectus geometricus (Araneae: Theridiidae). Journal of Medical Entomology 45:959-962.

Bury, R.B. 2006. Natural History, Field Ecology, Conservation Biology and Wildlife Management: Time to connect the dots. Herpetological Conservation and Biology 1:53-61.

Buskirk, R.E., C. Frohlich & K.G. Ross. 1984. The natural selection of sexual cannibalism. American Naturalist 123:612-625.

Cardoso, J.L.C. & S.M. Lucas. 2003. Introdução ao araneísmo. p. 139-149. In: J.L.C. Cardoso, F.O.S. França, F.H. Wen, C.M.S. Málaque & V. Haddad Jr. Animais Peçonhentos no Brasil: Biologia, Clínica e Terapêutica dos Acidentes. Sarvier, São Paulo.

Carey, J.R. 1993. Applied demography for biologists. Oxford University Press, New York. 206 p.

Edmonds, D.T & F. Vollrath. 1992. The contribution of atmospheric water vapour to the formation and efficiency of spider´s capture web. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 248:145-148.

Eicktedt, V.R.V. 1999. Aranhas de Importância Médica no Brasil. p. 261-298. In: B. Barraviera. Venenos: Aspectos Clínicos e Terapêuticos dos Acidentes por Animais Peçonhentos. EPUB, Rio de Janeiro.

Elgar, M.A. 1992. Sexual cannibalism in spiders and other invertebrates. p. 128-155. In: M.Elgar & B. Crespi. Cannibalism Ecology and Evolution Among Diverse Taxa. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Elgar, M.A. & J.M. Schneider. 2004. Evolutionary significance of sexual cannibalism. Advances in the Study of Behavior 34:135-163.

Forster, L. & S. Kingsford. 1983. A preliminary study of development in two Latrodectus species (Araneae: Theridiidae). New Zealand Entomology 7:431-439.

Forster, L.M. 1995. The behavioral ecology of Latrodectus hasselti (Thorell), the Australian redback spider (Araneae: Theridiidae): a review. Records of Western Australian Museum Supplement 52:13-24.

Garb, J.E., A. González & R.G. Gillespie. 2004. The black widow spider genus Latrodectus (Araneae: Theridiidae): phylogeny, biogeography, and invasion history. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 31:1127-1142.

Giray, T., Y.A. Luyten, M. MacPherson & L. Stevens. 2001. Physiological bases of genetic differences in cannibalism behavior of the confused flour beetle Tribolium confusum. Evolution 55:797-806.

González, A., S. González & A. Armendano. 1998. Desarrollo postembrionario de Latrodectus variegatus (Araneae: Theridiidae). Revista de Biología Tropical 46:93-99.

Hódar, J.A & F. Sánchez-Piñero. 2002. Feeding habitats of the black widow spider Latrodectus lilianae (Araneae: Theridiidae) in an arid zone of south-east Spain. Journal of Zoology 257:101-109.

Johnson, J.C. 2001. Sexual cannibalism in fishing spiders (Dolomedes triton): an evaluation of two explanations for female aggression towards potential mates. Animal Behavior 61:905-914.

Johnson, J.C., K. Kitchen & M.C.B. Andrade. 2010. Family Affects Sibling Cannibalism in the Black Widow Spider, Latrodectus Hesperus. Ethology 116:770-777.

Kaston, B.J. 1968. Remarks on black widow spiders with an account of some anomalies. Entomological News 79:113-124.

Kaston, B.J. 1970. Comparative biology of American black widow spiders. San Diego Society of Natural History Transactions 16:33-82.

Kasumovic, M.M. & M.C.B. Andrade. 2004. Discrimination of airborne pheromones by mate searching male western black widow spiders (Latrodectus hesperus): species- and population- specific responses. Canadian Journal of Zoology 82:1027-1034.

Levi, H.W. 1959. The Spider Genus Latrodectus (Araneae, Theridiidae). Transactions of the American Microscopical Society 78:7-43.

Levi, H.W & L.R. Levi. 2002. Spiders and Their Kin. S.t. Martin´s Press, New York. 160 p.

Lucas, S.M. 2003. Aranhas de interesse médico no Brasil. p. 139-149. In: J.L.C. Cardoso, F.O.S. França, F.H. Wen, C.M.S. Málaque & V. Haddad Jr. Animais Peçonhentos no Brasil: Biologia, Clínica e Terapêutica dos Acidentes. Sarvier, São Paulo.

Muller, G.J. 1993. Black and brown widow spider bites in South Africa a series of 45 cases. South African Medical Journal 83:399-405.

Nentwig, W. 1987. Ecophysiology of Spiders. Springer-Verlag, Berlin. 448 p.

Platnick, N.I. 2007. The world spider catalog, version 7.5. American Museum of Natural History, New York. Online at

Polis, G.A. 1981. The evolution and dynamics of intraspecific predation. Annual Review of Ecological Systems 12:225-251.

Rickers, S. & S. Scheu. 2005. Cannibalism in Pardosa palustris (Araneae, Lycosidae): effects of alternative prey, habitat structure, and density. Basic and Applied Ecology 6:471-478.

Segoli, M., R. Arieli, P. Sierwald, A.R. Harari & Y. Lubin. 2008. Sexual Cannibalism in the Brown Widow Spider (Latrodectus geometricus). Ethology 114:279-286.

Samu, F., S. Toft & B. Kiss. 1999. Factors influencing cannibalism in the wolf spider Pardosa agrestis (Araneae, Lycosidae). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 45: 349-354.

Snowdon, C.T. 1999. O significado da pesquisa em Comportamento Animal. Estudos de Psicologia 4:365-373.

Wagner, J.D. & D.H. Wise. 1996. Cannibalism Regulates Densities of Young Wolf Spiders: Evidence From Field and Laboratory Experiments. Ecology 77:639-652.

Wagner, J.D. & D.H. Wise. 1997. Influence of prey availability and conspecifics on patch quality for a cannibalistic forager: laboratory experiments with the wolf spider Schizocosa. Oecologia 109:474-482.

Wise, D.H. 2006. Cannibalism, food limitation, intraspecific competition, and the regulation of spider populations. Annual Review of Entomology 51:441-465.

Work, R.W. & N. Morosoff. 1982. A physicochemical study of super contraction of spider major ampullate silk fibers. Textile Research Journal 52:349.

Work, R.W. & C.T. Young. 1987. The amino acid compositions of major and minor ampullate silks of certain orb-web building spiders (Araneae, Araneidae).The Journal of Arachnology 15:65-80.




How to Cite

Antonialli-Junior, W. F., & Guimarães, I. (2014). Aggregation Behavior in Spiderlings: a Strategy for Increasing Life Expectancy in Latrodectus geometricus (Araneae: Theridiidae). Sociobiology, 59(2), 463–475.




Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 > >>