Tylorida ventralis (Thorell, 1877)
Big-bellied Tylorida Spider
横 带 隆 背 蛛
Tylorida ventralis (Thorell, 1877) belongs to the family Tetragnathidae. They are long-jawed orb weavers with long legs because they have a distinctive cherlicerae that are long and wide, and their webs are shaped delicately like an orb with open hubs. Under the genus Tylorida Simon, 1894, they can be easily distinguished from other genera of the sub-family Leucauginae from their first pair of legs, which are longer than their second pair by a ratio of more than 1.6.
Contrary to common beliefs that female spiders are cannibalistic and reluctant to participate in sex, the sexual behaviour in T. ventralis offered a complete twist to this notion, making them one of the “horniest” spiders.
Unusual sex in T. ventralis
Tylorida ventralis mating pair (male: left, female: right) (Photo taken by Nicky Bay (C))
Copulation in all spiders with the exception of the harvestman (Order: Opiliones) occurs indirectly through a process called sperm induction. This process involves the transference of semen from the genitalia at the ventral side of its abdomen into its palps situated in front of its head first, before inserting the palp into the epigynum of the female located at the ventral side of the abdomen.Usually, the male will chew on its palps, which by wetting them may help with the absorption of the semen.
Male (left) flexing his palp on the chelicera and approaching the female (right). (Photo taken by Nicky Bay (C))
Copulation in T. ventralis usually occurs within the female's orb-web where the male will approach the female in the web and flexes his palps in a rotatory manner, which is normally a prelude to sperm induction and copulation. Contrary to the conventional notion that female spiders are reluctant or passive in sexual advances by the males and is extremely aggressive or even cannibalistic towards their partners, a study by Mafham and Cahillobserved that the T. ventralis females showed positive response to the presence of males and will actively participate in or even initiate copulation.
A male (left) T. ventralis trying to insert the palp into the female's epigynum (right). (Photo taken by Nicky Bay (C))
Moreover, insertion of the palp (containing the sperms) into the epigynum in T. ventraliscan be repeated hundreds of times during the mating period which can last for as long as 10 hours.This behaviour is uncommon in other species such as Tetragnatha extensa and Micrommata virescens, which will only insert its palp once.
Palp being inserted into epigynum (Male = right, Female = left). (Photo taken by Nicky Bay (C))
There are two possible explanations for this bizarre copulation behaviour inT. ventralis. Firstly, this behaviour seems to constitute an unusual form of mate-guarding and will prevent any further insemination by other males, thus confering higher sperm priority. Secondly, by staying in the web longer, the male derives benefits by stealing a proportion of the food meant for ovarian maturation by the female. At the same time, the female also benefits from the extended copulation by reducing the risk of predation or capture (50% reduction).
After insemination, the female is able to retain the sperm mass outside of the uterus in a specialized structure (spermathecae) until the eggs are ready for fertilization.
Thus, they are able to lay several batches of eggs. She will then protect the eggs by spinning a soft layer of fine yellow silk (Tubiliform silk) as shown in the photo below. In most cases, the mother will care for the offsprings and actively secure food for her brood until they hatch.
Egg sac of T. ventralis (Photo by Rayson Lim (C))
Physiology of feeding and digestion
Digestion of their prey occurs externally where once the prey has been subdued via wrapping them with silk, it will cut and mash the prey with its cheliceral teeth and pour in enzymes derived from the front end of the alimentary canal. Once the internal organs of the prey starts to liquify, it will be sucked out and more enzymes will be introduced until the internal contents have been fully digested and consumed. The liquified content will then be ingested into the midgut due to the action of the sucking stomach. Any remaining particulate solids will be filtered out through the bristles around the mouth as well as by a filter system in the throat. The final stages of the digestion and adsorption of food occur in the midgut.
Web construction and foraging
T. ventralis are orb-web spiders and their web type can be classified under aerial ladder-webs.These webs are often built in open vegetation such as heathland and forests.T. ventraliswill spend most of its time resting at the web's open-hub, monitoring the tensions and vibrations of the web using its sensitive trichobothrial hairs on its legs. The web hub is usually situated at the extreme top of the web, which allows equal access times to all parts of the web because it can run faster downhill than climbing upwards
. Although little is known about the foraging ecology ofT. ventralis, a study conducted onT. ventralismating behaviour has shown that the females usually construct or renew their web in the early morning, indicating that it may be the most productive period or their usual feeding period.
Countries: India; Sri Lanka; Southern China; Taiwan; Japan; Papua New Guinea; Myanmar; Laos; Malaysia; Singapore; Indonesia
T. ventralis (Orange parts indicate presence of T.ventralis). The distribution is based on the information of examined specimen by various authors as shown in Table 1.
Map showing the distribution of
Description locality and specimen information
Table 1 shows the information of collected specimens in various locality.
|1877||Male & female||Unknown||Unknown||Kendari, Sulawesi (formerly known as Celebes): TYPE LOCALITY|
|1887||Unknown||Specimen in British Museum (Natural History)||Oates, E.W.||Tharrawaddy, Rangoon|
|1904||Male & female||Unknown||Gardiner, J.S.||Minikoi; Ereadu & Miladumadulu|
|1956||5 females||National Collection, ZSI, 25.xi.1956||Tikader, B.K.||Dhakuria, Calcutta|
|2000||1 female||National Collection, ZSI, 12.vii.2000||Sunil Jose, K.||Bhoothathankettu, Kerala|
|1959||1 female||RMNH, 8.ix.1959||Vervoort, W.||Kouh, Digoel, West New Guinea|
|1959||1 female||RMNH, 2.vii.1959||Star Mountains Expedition||Ok Bon, West New Guinea|
|1909||1 female||ZMH, 12-16.i.1909||Duncker, G.||Langemak Bay, East New Guinea|
|1962||1 male||ZMK, 21.iii.1962||Noona Dan Expedition||Lavongai, Banatam, Bismarck Archipelago|
|1989||1 female & 1 male||RMBR, ZRC 1994.77-18||Unknown||Lim Chu Kang mangroves|
|2004||1 female||SMF 58723-121||Jӓger, O. & Vedel, V.||Muang Sing, Nam Det, Luang Nam Tha Province|
|1988||5 females & 4 males||Specimen in Museum of Hebei University||Yan, H.M.||Chang Sha city, Hunan Province|
|1990||3 females & 2 males||Specimen in Museum of Hebei University||Zhu, M.S.||Fan Jing Mountain, Guizhou Province|
|1998||8 females & 2 males||Specimen in Museum of Hebei University||Wong, X.P.||Taiping Mountain, Hong Kong|
|1990||3 females & 2 males||Specimen in Museum of Hebei Univeristy||Zhu, M.S.||Yunan Province|
|2003||5 females & 2 males||NSMT-Ar 5582-5583||Tanikawa, A.||Okinawa Prefecture|
ZSI - Zoological Survey of India
RMNH - Rijksmuseum van Natuurlijke Historie, Leiden
ZMH - Zoologisches Museum Hamburg
ZMK - Zoologiske Museum København
RMBR - Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research
ZRC - Zoological Reference Collection
SMF - Research Institute Senckenberg, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
NSMT - National Science Museum, Tokyo
|Tylos (Greek: τύλος) = Callus Ventra (Latin) = Belly|
This refers to the highly raised abdomen from the cephalothorax. (See photo below)
Highly raised abdomen from the cephalothorax. (Photo by Rayson Lim (C))
|Meta ventralis||Thorell, 1877b. Annali. Mus. civ. Genova, 10: 423.||Original description||X|
|Argyroepeira ventralis||Thorell, 1887. Annali. Mus. civ. Genova, 25: 138.|
Workman, 1896. Malays. Spid., : 65.
Pocock, 1900. Fauna Brit. India, Arachn.,: 216
|Leucauge ventralis||Pocock, 1904. Fauna and Geography of the Maldive and Laccadive Archipelagoes, Arachn. Long., 2: 800.|
Tikader, 1962. J. Linn. Soc., 44(300): 566.
|Transferred from Argyroepeira||X|
|Anopas ventralis||Archer, 1951. Am. Mus. Novit., 1502: 7.||Transferred from Leucauge ventralis||X|
|Leucauge sphenoida||Wang, 1991. ACTA: Ootaxonomica Sinica, 16: 157.|
Song, Zhu & Chen, 1999. Hebei Science and Technology Publishing House: 216.
|Tylorida ventralis||Chrysanthus, 1975. Further notes on the spiders of New Guinea II (Araneae, Tetragnathidae, Theridiidae): 31 (transferred from Anopas).|
Song, Zhu & Chen, 1999. Hebei Science and Technology Publishing House: 223.
Tanikawa, 2004. Acta Arachnologica, 53(2): 153.
|Transferred from Anopas ventralis||O|
Among these 9 species, T. cylindrata and T. ventralis resembles each other closely with similar body-shape and colour. However, they can be distinguished from each other through 4 differences:
1) T. ventralis(♀: 6.75 ~ 7.38mm, ♂: 5.49 ~ 6.21mm) is much smaller than T. cylindrata (♀: 12.24 ~ 13.77mm, ♂: 10.98mm).
2) Depression at female epigynum of T. ventralis is situated close to the epigastric furrow whereas the depression is situated far from the epigastric furrow in T. cylindrata.
3) Epigynum is posteriorly narrowing in T. cylindrata but not in T. ventralis.
4) Horn-shaped guiding lamellae at the tip of the conductor (on the palp) of T. ventralis is shorter than T. cylindrata.
5) Ridges on the retrolateral surface of the T. ventralis male chelicera is absent but is present in T. cylindrata.
Illustrated anatomical terms (Rayson (C))
Male and female are similar in shape, colour and ocular area arrangement with the exception of:
1) Size (♂: 5.49~6.21mm, is slightly smaller than ♀: 6.75~7.38mm).
2) Legs of males are longer and thinner than females.
3) Promargin of chelicera with 3 teeth (♀ & ♂) but retromargin has 4 - 5 teeth (♀) and 4 teeth (♂).
Lateral view of a male T. ventralis waving its palps (Photo by Rayson (C))
Anterior view of male T. ventralis (Photo by Rayson Lim (C))
Ventral view of a male T. ventralis hanging from a petiole (Photo by Rayson (C))
Lateral view of a female T. ventralis (Photo by Rayson (C))
Anterior view of female T. ventralis (Photo by Rayson Lim (C))
Ventral view of a female T. ventralis hanging on its web (Photo by Rayson (C))
Literature and references
Mafham, K.P. and R.P. Mafham. 1996. The natural history of spiders. Ramsburg, Marlborough: The Crowood Press Ltd.
Mafham, K. P., and A. Cahill. 2000. Female‐initiated copulations in two tetragnathid spiders from Indonesia: Leucauge nigrovittata and Tylorida ventralis. Journal of Zoology 252:415–420.
Harmer, A. M. T., and M. E. Herberstein. 2010. Functional diversity of ladder-webs: moth specialization or optimal area use? Journal of Arachnology 38:119–122.
Harmer, A. M. T., and M. E. Herberstein. 2010. Functional diversity of ladder-webs: moth specialization or optimal area use? Journal of Arachnology 38:119–122.Mafham, K.P. and R.P. Mafham. 1996. The natural history of spiders. Ramsburg, Marlborough: The Crowood Press Ltd.
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Thorell, T. 1895. Descriptive catalogue of the spiders of Burma, based upon the collection made by Eugene W. Oates and preserved in the British Museum. By T. Thorell. London: 406 pp.
Tikader, B. 1962. Studies on some Indian spiders (Araneae: Arachnida). Journal of the Linnean Society of London. 44(300): 561–584.
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This page was authored by Lim Bock Hing Rayson
Last curated in 2011