Masoncus Spider: A Miniature Predator of Collembola in Harvester Ant Colonies

Masoncus Spider: A Miniature Predator of Collembola in Harvester Ant Colonies Florida State University Tallahassee, Florida 32306 Symbionts are common in nests of Pogonomyrmex harvester ants (Lavigne 1969, Hunter and Farrier 1976, MacKay 1981 and 1983, Wray 1938). Over ten species of arthropods were found inhabiting Pogonomyrmex badius (Latreille) nests near Tallahassee, Florida. Springtails were especially common; literally thousands of white entomobryids and isotomids, were found running through nest chambers. The entomobryid was Pseudosinella rolfsi Mills, a species often found in ant colonies. The isotomid was an undescribed species in what may be a new genus closely related to Folsomia, Proisotoma and Cryptopygus. Perhaps the most interesting symbiont was a small undescribed spider of the genus Masoncus Chamberlin (Linyphiidae: Erigoninae). These spiders were about 2 mm long (Fig. 1). Their legs and cephalothorax were pale orange, while the abdomen was slightly darker and grayish. Immature spiders were pale cream colored with a grayish abdomen. Very little is known about the natural history of Masoncus spiders. According to Millidge (personal comm.), these spiders are taxonomically similar to the genus Tapinocyba. Masoncus spiders in P. badius nests are apparently predators of the symbiotic Collembola. On several occasions, actually observed these spiders carrying dead collembolans, although did not see how they were captured. These spiders can spin silk, but probably do not use webs for prey capture because have never observed more than a few strands of silk in any nest chamber. Symbiotic Thyreosthenius spiders in Britain also prey on Collembola (Bristowe 1939). Mites were very abundant and might be a secondary source of food for young spiders. The ceilings and floors of nest chambers were often covered with droves of small mites (4 species) slowly "grazing" on the substrate. These mites belonged to the families Fig. I. Male Masom’us spider in harvester ant nest chamber. Belbidae, U ropodidae, Laelaspidae and Rhodacaridae. Belbids are very small mites common in the soil. Uropodids (Oplitis) are common in moist litter and are also found in ant colonies (Hunter and Farrier 1976)as are laelaspid mites. The laelaspid found in our nests was probably Laelaspis moseri Hunter or Laelaspis mumai Hunter. The rhodacarid belonged to the genus Rhodacarellus, a potentially predatory genus frequently found in deciduous leaf litter. Harvester ant nests also contained a few silverfish (Nicoletiidae), diplurans (Japigidae) and less frequently millipeds and staphylinid beetles. 1985] Porter Masoncus in harvester ant colonies have collected Masoncus spiders from harvester ant nests in three widely separated areas south of Tallahassee, but they are probably much more widespread. Spiders were present in almost all of the harvester ant nests excavated. Each nest contained from a few to several dozen spiders depending on the size of the colony and how carefully excavated it. Females outnumbered males by four to one in my collections and were consistently the predominant sex. Spiders were distributed throughout the colony from the uppermost nest chambers to those more than two meters below the surface. Generally, They seem to prefer deeper (>60 cm) chambers with fewer ants, but have also collected them from brood and seed storage chambers. On several occasions, have even observed spiders briefly running out of the nest entrance Spiders seem to prefer the ceilings and periphery of the nest chambers, perhaps because this reduces their contact with the ants. Spiders were present in the ant colonies throughout the year. Both adults and immatures have been collected in the months of March, May, June, July, August, September and November. These spiders have yet to be collected during mid-winter because cold weather severely inhibits my enthusiasm for excavating half frozen ant mounds. Very young spiderlings appear to be most common in the late months of summer. have collected eggs in July and September but may have overlooked them in other months as well. White egg sacks are laid in small depressions on the ceilings of nest chambers about one meter below the surface. The egg sack is 3-5 mm across and contains 2-3 eggs (x 2.6, n 10). The exposed surface of the sack is very smooth and conforms evenly to the contour of the ceiling; if this were not so the ants might destroy the egg sack during chamber maintenance. Spiderlings emerge from the egg sacks after about three weeks (25 C) through a small hole cut in the surface just off center from the egg cluster. am not certain whether these spiders are obligate or facultative guests, but the following evidence indicates that they are more than just casual residents of harvester ant nests: 1) have never found them associated with other ants (e.g. Solenopsis, Trachymyrmex, Aphenogaster) nor have chanced across them living independently. 2) Most harvester ant colonies contain at least a few spiders. 3) Spiders are foufid in harvester ant nests throughout the year. 4) have observed spiders feeding in the nests. 5) All life stages are found in the colonies demonstrating that the spiders successfully reproduce under these conditions. 6) Spiders appear to be capable of emigrating with the ant colony because several spiders were present in a colony which was excavated less than a week after it had emigrated. 7) The best evidence that these spiders are specially adapted for life in harvester ant colonies is that the spiders apparently adopt the odor of their host colony. Spiders and ants from the same colony generally ignore one another; workers occasionally displayed mild aggression but the spider was never captured or injured. However, when introduced spiders into foreign harvester ant colonies, they were almost without exception attacked and killed within minutes or even seconds. Spiders introduced into laboratory colonies of Trachymyrmex and Aphenogaster ants were similarly attacked and killed. It would be interesting to know how these spiders disperse among harvester ant colonies, especially how they locate a colony. They are very susceptible to desiccation so it seems unlikely that they would disperse in the daytime. Gaining entrance to a foreign colony would also be a problem since the entrance is sealed at night and guarded by hostile ants in the day. Many spiders are ant predators (MacKay 1982b, Porter and Eastmond 1982), but relatively few are symbionts (Table l). Perhaps, this is because spiders have a distinct preference for live prey and are less well adapted to subterranean life than many arthropods. Furthermore, unless a spider actually preys on the ants themselves, colonies must contain rather large and stable communities of symbionts to support a specialized symbiotic predator. The number of symbiotic spider-ant relationships which exist in spite of these seeming impediments (Table l) is interesting but perhaps not surprising in view of the fact that spiders and ants are among the most abundant of all arthropod groups. SUMMARY An undescribed spider of the genus Masoncus (Linyphiidae: Erigoninae) was commonly found in colonies of the harvester ant Pogonomyrmex badius. This miniature spider is a predator of Collembola and all of its life stages were present in the ant colonies. 1985] Porter- Masoncus in harvester ant colonies Table I. Symbiotic spiders and their ant hosts. Spider Gnaphosidae Eilica Ant Host Canlponotus Source Noonan 1982 Clubionidae Phrurolithus Saiticidae Cotinusa Crematogaster Tapinoma Formica Emerton 19 Shepard and Gibson 1972 Agelenidae Tetrilus Donisthorpe 1927 Linyphiidae Masom’us Cochh,mholus Evansia Thyreost henius Pogononl.l"rnlex Formica Formica Formica Tetranlorium Porter Dondale and Redner 1972 Donisthorpe 1927 A cartauchenius ACK NOWLEDGEMENTS thank A. F. Millidge and W. J. Gertsch for identifying the spiders. Voucher specimens have been deposited with H. W. Levi at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. R. J, Snider kindly identified the springtails and P. Hunter identified the mites. LITERATIIRF, CITED BRISTOWE, W. S. 1939. The comity of spiders. Ray Society (London) No. 126, 228 pp. DONDAI.E, C. D. AND REDNER, J. H. 1972. A synonym proposed in Perimones, a synonym rejected in Wah’kenaera, and a new species described in Coch/embo/us (Araneida: Erigonidae). Canadian Entomol. 104: 383-407. Dt)NISTllt)RPF,, H. STJ. 1927. Guests of British Ants. London. 244 pp. EMERTON. J. H. New spiders from New England. Connecticut Acad. Arts Sci. 16: 383-407. HI,NTER, J. E. AND FARRIER, M. H. 1976. Mites of the genus Oplitis Berlese (Acarina: Uropodidae) associated with ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in the southeastern United States; Parts and !!. Acarologia 17:595-624 and I$: 20-50. LAVIGNE, R. Bionomics and nest structure of Pogonom.l’rmex occidentalis (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Ann. Entomol. Soc. Amer. 62: 1166-1175. MACKAY, W. P. 198 I. A comparison of the nest phenologies of three species of Pogonomyrmex harvester ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). 118: 25-74. 1982. The effect of predation of western widow spiders (Araneae: Theridiidae) on harvester ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Oecologia (Bed) 53: 406-41 I. 1983. Beetles associated with the harvester ants, Pogonomyrmex montanus, P. subnitidus and P. rugosus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Coleopts. Bull. 37: 239-246. NOt)NAN, G. R. 1982. Notes on interactions between the spider Eilica puno (Gnaphosidae) and the ant Camponotus inca in the Peruvian Andes. Biotropica 14: 145-148. PORTER, S. D. AND EASTM()ND, D. A. 1982. Euryopis coki (Theridiidae), a spider that preys on Pogononl)’rmex ants. J. Arachnol. 10: 275-277. SilEPARD, M. AND GIBSON, F. 1972. Spider-ant symbiosis: Continusa spp. (Araneida: Salticidae) and Tapinoma melanocephalum (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Canadian Entomol. 104: 1951-1954. WRAY, O. L. 1938. Notes on the southern harvester ant (Pogonomyrmex hadius Latr.) in North Carolina. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Amer. 31: 196-201. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png

Masoncus Spider: A Miniature Predator of Collembola in Harvester Ant Colonies

Feb 26, 2008
Free
6 pages

Loading next page...
/lp/hindawi-publishing-corporation/masoncus-spider-a-miniature-predator-of-collembola-in-harvester-ant-RbUb0txqPn
Publisher
Hindawi Publishing Corporation
Copyright
This article is in the public domain.
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Florida State University Tallahassee, Florida 32306 Symbionts are common in nests of Pogonomyrmex harvester ants (Lavigne 1969, Hunter and Farrier 1976, MacKay 1981 and 1983, Wray 1938). Over ten species of arthropods were found inhabiting Pogonomyrmex badius (Latreille) nests near Tallahassee, Florida. Springtails were especially common; literally thousands of white entomobryids and isotomids, were found running through nest chambers. The entomobryid was Pseudosinella rolfsi Mills, a species often found in ant colonies. The isotomid was an undescribed species in what may be a new genus closely related to Folsomia, Proisotoma and Cryptopygus. Perhaps the most interesting symbiont was a small undescribed spider of the genus Masoncus Chamberlin (Linyphiidae: Erigoninae). These spiders were about 2 mm long (Fig. 1). Their legs and cephalothorax were pale orange, while the abdomen was slightly darker and grayish. Immature spiders were pale cream colored with a grayish abdomen. Very little is known about the natural history of Masoncus spiders. According to Millidge (personal comm.), these spiders are taxonomically similar to the genus Tapinocyba. Masoncus spiders in P. badius nests are apparently predators of the symbiotic Collembola. On several occasions, actually observed these spiders carrying dead collembolans, although did not see how they were captured. These spiders can spin silk, but probably do not use webs for prey capture because have never observed more than a few strands of silk in any nest chamber. Symbiotic Thyreosthenius spiders in Britain also prey on Collembola (Bristowe 1939). Mites were very abundant and might be a secondary source of food for young spiders. The ceilings and floors of nest chambers were often covered with droves of small mites (4 species) slowly "grazing" on the substrate. These mites belonged to the families Fig. I. Male Masom’us spider in harvester ant nest chamber. Belbidae, U ropodidae, Laelaspidae and Rhodacaridae. Belbids are very small mites common in the soil. Uropodids (Oplitis) are common in moist litter and are also found in ant colonies (Hunter and Farrier 1976)as are laelaspid mites. The laelaspid found in our nests was probably Laelaspis moseri Hunter or Laelaspis mumai Hunter. The rhodacarid belonged to the genus Rhodacarellus, a potentially predatory genus frequently found in deciduous leaf litter. Harvester ant nests also contained a few silverfish (Nicoletiidae), diplurans (Japigidae) and less frequently millipeds and staphylinid beetles. 1985] Porter Masoncus in harvester ant colonies have collected Masoncus spiders from harvester ant nests in three widely separated areas south of Tallahassee, but they are probably much more widespread. Spiders were present in almost all of the harvester ant nests excavated. Each nest contained from a few to several dozen spiders depending on the size of the colony and how carefully excavated it. Females outnumbered males by four to one in my collections and were consistently the predominant sex. Spiders were distributed throughout the colony from the uppermost nest chambers to those more than two meters below the surface. Generally, They seem to prefer deeper (>60 cm) chambers with fewer ants, but have also collected them from brood and seed storage chambers. On several occasions, have even observed spiders briefly running out of the nest entrance Spiders seem to prefer the ceilings and periphery of the nest chambers, perhaps because this reduces their contact with the ants. Spiders were present in the ant colonies throughout the year. Both adults and immatures have been collected in the months of March, May, June, July, August, September and November. These spiders have yet to be collected during mid-winter because cold weather severely inhibits my enthusiasm for excavating half frozen ant mounds. Very young spiderlings appear to be most common in the late months of summer. have collected eggs in July and September but may have overlooked them in other months as well. White egg sacks are laid in small depressions on the ceilings of nest chambers about one meter below the surface. The egg sack is 3-5 mm across and contains 2-3 eggs (x 2.6, n 10). The exposed surface of the sack is very smooth and conforms evenly to the contour of the ceiling; if this were not so the ants might destroy the egg sack during chamber maintenance. Spiderlings emerge from the egg sacks after about three weeks (25 C) through a small hole cut in the surface just off center from the egg cluster. am not certain whether these spiders are obligate or facultative guests, but the following evidence indicates that they are more than just casual residents of harvester ant nests: 1) have never found them associated with other ants (e.g. Solenopsis, Trachymyrmex, Aphenogaster) nor have chanced across them living independently. 2) Most harvester ant colonies contain at least a few spiders. 3) Spiders are foufid in harvester ant nests throughout the year. 4) have observed spiders feeding in the nests. 5) All life stages are found in the colonies demonstrating that the spiders successfully reproduce under these conditions. 6) Spiders appear to be capable of emigrating with the ant colony because several spiders were present in a colony which was excavated less than a week after it had emigrated. 7) The best evidence that these spiders are specially adapted for life in harvester ant colonies is that the spiders apparently adopt the odor of their host colony. Spiders and ants from the same colony generally ignore one another; workers occasionally displayed mild aggression but the spider was never captured or injured. However, when introduced spiders into foreign harvester ant colonies, they were almost without exception attacked and killed within minutes or even seconds. Spiders introduced into laboratory colonies of Trachymyrmex and Aphenogaster ants were similarly attacked and killed. It would be interesting to know how these spiders disperse among harvester ant colonies, especially how they locate a colony. They are very susceptible to desiccation so it seems unlikely that they would disperse in the daytime. Gaining entrance to a foreign colony would also be a problem since the entrance is sealed at night and guarded by hostile ants in the day. Many spiders are ant predators (MacKay 1982b, Porter and Eastmond 1982), but relatively few are symbionts (Table l). Perhaps, this is because spiders have a distinct preference for live prey and are less well adapted to subterranean life than many arthropods. Furthermore, unless a spider actually preys on the ants themselves, colonies must contain rather large and stable communities of symbionts to support a specialized symbiotic predator. The number of symbiotic spider-ant relationships which exist in spite of these seeming impediments (Table l) is interesting but perhaps not surprising in view of the fact that spiders and ants are among the most abundant of all arthropod groups. SUMMARY An undescribed spider of the genus Masoncus (Linyphiidae: Erigoninae) was commonly found in colonies of the harvester ant Pogonomyrmex badius. This miniature spider is a predator of Collembola and all of its life stages were present in the ant colonies. 1985] Porter- Masoncus in harvester ant colonies Table I. Symbiotic spiders and their ant hosts. Spider Gnaphosidae Eilica Ant Host Canlponotus Source Noonan 1982 Clubionidae Phrurolithus Saiticidae Cotinusa Crematogaster Tapinoma Formica Emerton 19 Shepard and Gibson 1972 Agelenidae Tetrilus Donisthorpe 1927 Linyphiidae Masom’us Cochh,mholus Evansia Thyreost henius Pogononl.l"rnlex Formica Formica Formica Tetranlorium Porter Dondale and Redner 1972 Donisthorpe 1927 A cartauchenius ACK NOWLEDGEMENTS thank A. F. Millidge and W. J. Gertsch for identifying the spiders. Voucher specimens have been deposited with H. W. Levi at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. R. J, Snider kindly identified the springtails and P. Hunter identified the mites. LITERATIIRF, CITED BRISTOWE, W. S. 1939. The comity of spiders. Ray Society (London) No. 126, 228 pp. DONDAI.E, C. D. AND REDNER, J. H. 1972. A synonym proposed in Perimones, a synonym rejected in Wah’kenaera, and a new species described in Coch/embo/us (Araneida: Erigonidae). Canadian Entomol. 104: 383-407. Dt)NISTllt)RPF,, H. STJ. 1927. Guests of British Ants. London. 244 pp. EMERTON. J. H. New spiders from New England. Connecticut Acad. Arts Sci. 16: 383-407. HI,NTER, J. E. AND FARRIER, M. H. 1976. Mites of the genus Oplitis Berlese (Acarina: Uropodidae) associated with ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in the southeastern United States; Parts and !!. Acarologia 17:595-624 and I$: 20-50. LAVIGNE, R. Bionomics and nest structure of Pogonom.l’rmex occidentalis (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Ann. Entomol. Soc. Amer. 62: 1166-1175. MACKAY, W. P. 198 I. A comparison of the nest phenologies of three species of Pogonomyrmex harvester ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). 118: 25-74. 1982. The effect of predation of western widow spiders (Araneae: Theridiidae) on harvester ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Oecologia (Bed) 53: 406-41 I. 1983. Beetles associated with the harvester ants, Pogonomyrmex montanus, P. subnitidus and P. rugosus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Coleopts. Bull. 37: 239-246. NOt)NAN, G. R. 1982. Notes on interactions between the spider Eilica puno (Gnaphosidae) and the ant Camponotus inca in the Peruvian Andes. Biotropica 14: 145-148. PORTER, S. D. AND EASTM()ND, D. A. 1982. Euryopis coki (Theridiidae), a spider that preys on Pogononl)’rmex ants. J. Arachnol. 10: 275-277. SilEPARD, M. AND GIBSON, F. 1972. Spider-ant symbiosis: Continusa spp. (Araneida: Salticidae) and Tapinoma melanocephalum (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Canadian Entomol. 104: 1951-1954. WRAY, O. L. 1938. Notes on the southern harvester ant (Pogonomyrmex hadius Latr.) in North Carolina. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Amer. 31: 196-201.

There are no references for this article.

You’re reading a free preview. Subscribe to read the entire article.


DeepDyve is your
personal research library

It’s your single place to instantly
discover and read the research
that matters to you.

Enjoy affordable access to
over 18 million articles from more than
15,000 peer-reviewed journals.

All for just $49/month

Explore the DeepDyve Library

Search

Query the DeepDyve database, plus search all of PubMed and Google Scholar seamlessly

Organize

Save any article or search result from DeepDyve, PubMed, and Google Scholar... all in one place.

Access

Get unlimited, online access to over 18 million full-text articles from more than 15,000 scientific journals.

Your journals are on DeepDyve

Read from thousands of the leading scholarly journals from SpringerNature, Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford University Press and more.

All the latest content is available, no embargo periods.

See the journals in your area

DeepDyve

Freelancer

DeepDyve

Pro

Price

FREE

$49/month
$360/year

Save searches from
Google Scholar,
PubMed

Create lists to
organize your research

Export lists, citations

Read DeepDyve articles

Abstract access only

Unlimited access to over
18 million full-text articles

Print

20 pages / month

PDF Discount

20% off