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Monoclonal antibodies reveal the potential of the tetragnathid spider Pachygnatha degeeri (Araneae: Tetragnathidae) as an aphid predator

  • J.D. Harwood (a1), K.D. Sunderland (a2) and W.O.C. Symondson (a1)


The drive towards a more sustainable and integrated approach to pest management has engendered a renewed interest in conservation biological control, the role of natural enemy communities and their interactions with prey. Monoclonal antibodies have provided significant advances in enhancing our knowledge of trophic interactions and can be employed to help quantify predation on target species. The tetragnathid spider Pachygnatha degeeri Sundevall was collected from fields of winter wheat in the UK and assayed by ELISA for aphid proteins. It was demonstrated that this spider did not simply consume greater quantities of aphids because it was bigger. In addition, P. degeeri contained significantly greater concentrations of aphid in their guts than other spiders, showing that aphids comprised a greater proportion of their diet. Although P. degeeri constituted only 6% of the spider population numerically, females and males respectively contained 16% and 37% of total aphid proteins within all spiders screened, significantly more than their density would predict. These spiders also preyed upon aphids at a disproportionately high rate in June, during the aphid establishment phase, theoretically the best time for limiting growth in the aphid population. Although less abundant than other generalist predators, the capability of these hunting spiders to consume large numbers of aphids highlights them as a more significant component of the predator complex than had previously been realized. Limitation of aphid numbers early in the year by generalist predators provides more time for the specialist aphid predators and parasitoids to move in.


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*Department of Entomology, University of Kentucky, S-225 Agricultural Science Center North, Lexington, KY 40546-0091, USA. Fax:859-323-1120 E-mail:


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Monoclonal antibodies reveal the potential of the tetragnathid spider Pachygnatha degeeri (Araneae: Tetragnathidae) as an aphid predator

  • J.D. Harwood (a1), K.D. Sunderland (a2) and W.O.C. Symondson (a1)


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