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Trash-line Spider

Cyclosa walckenaeri

Description:

The Trash-line Spider (or Garbage Line Spider) is 5 mm in length and in spite of its tiny size is a remarkable hard-working little engineer. This is an orb weaver and makes a small orb web. Then she makes lateral support lines and thick reinforced silk cables to support a trash line consisting of dead pieces of prey, silk and organic debris. The trash line can be 2 to 3 times thicker than her own body and 10 to 20 times longer. The 5th picture shows a double Trash line in a "Y" shape and is probably 2 or 3 years old. The female is the only one that makes a trash line. Males are much smaller and probably visit several females as they are often found in groups. She can always be found hanging head down at the very end of the trash line with all her legs tucked in tightly around her. She is colored and textured so identically to her garbage that unless she moves you cannot see her (pictures 1 and 2). When disturbed or frightened, she will drop suddenly to the ground but maintain a safety line of silk connected to her trash and will return to her original spot within a few minutes. They are immobile during the day and more active at night, when they feed and repair their webs and trash lines. There are several species of Cyclosa and I am not sure about this one. It seems closest to Cyclosa walckenaeri. She is various shades of beige and brown, has a relatively rounded abdomen with 4 terminal lumps and two prominent dorsal lumps which are yellow. The legs are banded in brown, black and beige and are quite hairy (pictures 3, 4 & 6). All the lumps and bumps help match her to her garbage. As the trash line gets bigger and bigger, she has to reinforce the cables that hold it in place. Heavy wind can cause the trash line to destroy the orb web around it. Studies have shown that the trash line is very effective in attracting additional prey and in protecting the spider from predators (https://jeb.biologists.org/content/jexbi....) I have found them in groups among the thick stalks of Agave and also in odd places like between the poles of gates (https://www.projectnoah.org/spottings/23...).

Habitat:

Semi-rural residential area, San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico 2,200 meters.

Notes:

https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-natur... https://www.naturalista.mx/taxa/127360-C... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclosa http://esperancewildlife.blogspot.com/20... https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/ar... https://bugguide.net/node/view/637287/bg... https://www.foxeslair.org/foxypress/cycl... https://www.projectnoah.org/spottings/17... https://www.projectnoah.org/spottings/94... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclosa_wa... https://www.naturalista.mx/observations/... https://www.discoverlife.org/20/q?search... https://bugguide.net/node/view/1304057 https://www.naturalista.mx/observations/...

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Comments

LaurenZarate
Spotted by
LaurenZarate

San Cristóbal, Chiapas, Mexico

Lat: 16.71, Long: -92.61

Spotted on Sep 2, 2017
Submitted on Jun 21, 2019

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