Tengella perfuga Dahl, 1901 is a Nicaraguan cribellate zoropsid spider found in high altitude remnant cloud forest habitats bordering coffee plantations. Since its description in 1901, and its rediscovery in 2012, almost nothing is known of its natural history, life history, courtship or web spinning behavior. Observations were made in the field, as well as in the lab. Mature female T. perfuga occurred in funnel webs with several knockdown lines comprised of cribellate silk, and that were typically placed between buttress roots of strangler figs or other outcropping structures, while males abandoned their webs upon adulthood to search for females. Here, we describe the life history, growth, web ontogeny, courtship and reproductive behaviors, as well as silk use of this spider for the first time. There are 11–12 instars to reach adulthood and cribellate silk did not appear in juvenile webs until the eighth instar. Interestingly, orbicularian-like behaviors were observed in the initial appearance of cribellate silk lines in the juvenile web in a spiral-like pattern. Males exhibited positive allometric growth in Leg I from penultimate to adult instars, which likely plays an important role in courtship; this included strumming the sheet, stroking the female and depositing a thin ‘bridal veil' of silk on the female. Virgin females had ‘mating plugs' prior to exposure to males. This suggests that T. perfuga may be an interesting species with which to further examine sexual evolution and female choice.
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Vol. 45 • No. 2