New Jumping Spider With Mating Plug Discovered in Southern India

Posted on March 29, 2015

Stenaelurillus albus

A new jumping spider with a mating plug has been discovered in the Western Ghats in southern India. The spider, named Stenaelurillus albus, belongs to the family Salticidae and genus Stenaelurillus. A male of the species is pictured above.

The spider has a unique whitish area on the tegulum of the pedipalp, which is the copulatory organ of the male spider. Mating plugs can function as paternity protection devices. They are rare in jumping spiders. Only about 3% of jumping spiders species have them.

Dr. P.A. Sebastian from Sacred Heart College, Kochi in India led the study. He says, "Mating plugs are not very unusual in the animal kingdom and their presence has been described in a number of spider families including Salticidae. However, it is interesting to note that they have been reported in only 17 species of the approximately 5800 jumping spiders described so far."

They are typically left sealed in the female after copulation. The researchers did find a plug in the female copulatory opening. It was sealed with amorphous secretions. The researchers say the plug covered "nearly the whole area of the left copulatory opening and the surrounding female reproductive region."

A research paper on the new species can be found here in the journal, ZooKeys.

Photo: Dr. P.A. Sebastian