Notes on Walckenaeria unicornis

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Strong attachment of male to female Walckenaera unicornis (Araneae: Linyphiidae) by Stanley Dobson

From The Newsletter No.44 November 1985

On 18th May 1985, whilst searching through tussocks of marram grass, Ammophila arenaria, at Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire, I saw a small spider, which later proved to be a female Walckenaera unicomis, dragging something as it ran. Now it is not uncommon to see spiders carrying prey, but I had never before seen prey being dragged, which is what at first I thought was happening; however, on getting the spider into a tube and examining it through a hand lens, the 'prey' turned out to be a male of the same species with a palp inserted and being towed by this means only. It was quite passive with all appendages, apart from the one palp, folded closely to its body and was obviously very strongly attached, despite having been dragged over a rough surface when found, sucked into a pooter, blown into a tube and suffered the gyrations of the female dashing up and down the confined space. After about ten seconds, it broke free and immediately became a normal, active individual, apparently none the worse.

There is, of course no way of telling whether the behaviour of the male was due to sheer persistence or whether it really had difficulty in disengaging itself.
 
Added by John Partridge at 19:55 on Tue 10th Jan 2012. Return to Summary for Walckenaeria unicornis