POPULATION DYNAMICS OF THE RED WIDOW SPIDER (ARANEAE: THERIDIIDAE)
AbstractPopulations of the red widow spider, Latrodectus bishopi, in native Florida scrub at the Archbold Biological Station were monitored annually on ten ≈0.5 ha transects in late winter from 1987 to 2000. Of 398 L. bishopi detected in the study, all but three had their silken retreats built in palmetto leaves. L. bishopi at rest in retreats in saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) were higher above the ground (≈0.5 m) than spiders in scrub palmetto (Sabal etonia) (≈0.3 m). From a peak of 31 spiders/ha in 1989, the average L. bishopi density declined exponentially to only 0.3 spiders/ha in 1997, after which L. bishopi densities began to recover. Burning of scrubby transects in spring or summer appeared to have no affect on subsequent L. bishopi populations. There were no significant correlations between L. bishopi population density and local temperature or precipitation data. These results suggest that undescribed biotic factors may regulate populations of the red widow spider in a density-dependent fashion.
Copyright for any article published in Florida Entomologist is held by the author(s) of the article. Florida Entomologist follows terms of the Creative Commons, Attribution Non-Commercial License (cc by-nc). By submitting and publishing articles in Florida Entomologist, authors grant the FOJ and Florida Entomologist's host institutions permission to make the article available through Internet posting and electronic dissemination, and to otherwise archive the information contained both electronically and in a hard printed version. When used, information and images obtained from articles must be referenced and cited appropriately. Articles may be reproduced for personal, educational, or archival purposes, or any non-commercial use. Permission should be sought from the author(s) for multiple, non-commercial reproduction. Written permission from the author(s) is required for any commercial reproduction.