Specialized prey selection behavior of two East African assassin bugs, Scipinnia repax and Nagusta sp. that prey on social jumping spiders
The prey choice behavior and predatory strategies of two East African assassin bugs, Scipinnia repax (Stäl 1961) and Nagusta sp. (Hemiptera: Reduviidae), were investigated in the field and the laboratory. Both of these species are from the subfamily Harpactorinae and specialize in eating spiders. They prey especially often on social jumping spiders (Salticidae) that build nest complexes (nests connected by silk) in vegetation near the shoreline of Lake Victoria. Both reduviid species associate with these nest complexes and prey on the resident salticids. Nagusta sp., but not S. repax, form groups on nest complexes with 2-3 individuals of Nagusta sometimes feeding together on a single salticid. In addition to social salticids, Nagusta sp. preys on Portia africana, an araneophagic salticid that often invades the same nest complexes. S. repax preys on salticid eggs and also on Nagusta. Although they avoid ants, Nagusta and especially S. repax prey on ant-mimicking salticids, suggesting that sensory modalities other than vision play a dominant role in prey detection.