Pollen Feeding in an Orb-Weaving Spider

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Science  14 Dec 1984:
Vol. 226, Issue 4680, pp. 1330-1332
DOI: 10.1126/science.226.4680.1330


Juvenile orb-weaving spiders appear in spring, when insect prey are scarce but when aerial plankton, such as pollen and fungus spores, is abundant. Microscopic organic matter may be the main food of orb-weaving spiderlings, with insects providing only a dietary supplement. Pollen, which is caught on the sticky spirals of Araneus diadematus orb webs, doubles the life expectancy of spiderlings and alters their web-spinning behavior, so that they spin more frequently than do fasting controls. Fungus spores do not have the same nutritional value as pollen and may be deleterious to the spiderlings.