In a previous experimental study, recluse spiders Loxosceles reclusa Gertsch and Mulaik and Loxosceles laeta (Nicolet) (Araneae: Sicariidae) preferred small cardboard refugia covered with conspecific silk compared with never-occupied refugia. Herein, we investigated some factors that might be responsible for this preference using similar cardboard refugia. When the two Loxosceles species were given choices between refugia previously occupied by their own and by the congeneric species, neither showed a species-specific preference; however, each chose refugia coated with conspecific silk rather than those previously inhabited by a distantly related cribellate spider, Metaltella simoni (Keyserling). When L. laeta spiders were offered refugia that were freshly removed from silk donors compared with heated, aged refugia from the same silk donor, older refugia were preferred. Solvent extracts of L. laeta silk were chosen approximately as often as control refugia when a range of solvents (methylene chloride:methanol, water, and hexane) were used. However, when acetone was used on similar silk, there was a statistical preference for the control, indicating that there might be a mildly repellent aspect to acetone-washed silk. Considering the inability to show attraction to chemical aspects of fresh silk, it seems that physical attributes may be more important for selection and that there might be repellency to silk of a recently vacated spider. These findings are discussed in regard to pest management strategies to control recluse spiders.
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Vol. 103 • No. 3