Date Presented

Spring 5-15-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Dr. Kari Benson

Second Advisor

Dr. Priscilla Gannicott

Third Advisor

Dr. Price Blair


Understanding social and colonial spider species in the neotropics has aided in creating hypotheses for the evolution of sociality. Mecynogea lemniscata, the Basilica Orbweaver, is a species of spider that is identifiable by its distinct dome-shaped web. Mecynogea lemniscata has not been previously described as a social species, but this research indicates that the species does form social aggregations, or colonies, and should be classified as a colonial species. Unlike most described social spider species, M. lemniscata has a range that extends to temperate zones. Individual female spiders lived within communities containing a shared structural network and each individual female maintained her own web/territory. The purpose of this study was to collect baseline natural history data and to ascertain whether their lifestyle is consistent with coloniality. Data on Mecynogea lemniscata were collected from several natural colonies within Lynchburg, VA. The structure of each colony was examined by looking for relationships between each spider’s individual characteristics, such as body size, web size, number of egg sacs, as well the number of web connections. The relationships between connectedness and each characteristic were analyzed using a Pearson’s correlation test. The results did not support the hypothesis of a non-random distribution with respect to connectedness. However, the data collected on the species’ social systems indicated that they are a colonial species and allowed for comparisons to be made between this temperate social species and previously studied social species of the neotropics. These data provide a better understanding of M. lemniscata and can serve as a foundation for further research on this species and social spider species in general.

Included in

Entomology Commons