Journal of Ethology

, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 213–219 | Cite as

Sticky trap predation in the Neotropical resin bug Heniartes stali (Wygodzinsky) (Hemiptera: Reduviidae: Harpactorinae)

  • Jorge Luis Avila-NúñezEmail author
  • Marlene Naya
  • L. Daniel Otero
  • Miguel E. Alonso-Amelot


Certain species of assassin bugs have evolved the sticky trap strategy to capture prey using adhesive substances on their legs. The resin bug Heniartes stali collects a sticky exudate from the trichomes of a blackberry plant and smears its legs with it through an intriguing gathering process. We report laboratory experiments aimed at understanding the capture behavior of H. stali when it encountered three insect prey species with different mobility: the coleopteran larvae of Tribolium castaneum, a slow-moving organism; workers of the aggressive and highly mobile ant Camponotus rufipes; and winged prey, the fly Drosophila sp. Bugs stalked prey approaching within reach of their forelegs. After the bug threw forwards its forelegs, the prey became stuck and was subsequently held firmly by clutching with the aid of the middle legs, also smeared with trichome exudate. The bugs took longer to catch ants and immobilize them than larvae. Attacks on flies were unsuccessful because of flight escape before contact with H. stali occurred. A clear association between exudate harvesting and prey-capture behavior was unequivocally demonstrated. This is the first detailed description of a sticky leg trap from harvested plant exudate in Heniartes and related prey-capture behavior.


Resin bug Apiomerini Prey-capture behavior Insect tool use 



The authors are grateful to CDCHTA of the Universidad de Los Andes of Mérida, Venezuela, for financial support (Grant Nos. C-1773-12-01-B and SE-C-06-14-01).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and animal rights

All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

10164_2017_512_MOESM1_ESM.mpeg (21.7 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (MPEG 22250 kb) Larva-capture behavior of Heniartes stali in the laboratory
10164_2017_512_MOESM2_ESM.mpeg (26.3 mb)
Supplementary material 2 (MPEG 26966 kb) Ant-capture behavior of H. stali in the laboratory

Supplementary material 3 (MPG 3644 kb) Failed attempts of Heniartes stali to capture a Drosophila fly


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Copyright information

© Japan Ethological Society and Springer Japan 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jorge Luis Avila-Núñez
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marlene Naya
    • 1
  • L. Daniel Otero
    • 2
  • Miguel E. Alonso-Amelot
    • 1
  1. 1.Grupo de Química Ecológica, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad de Los AndesMéridaVenezuela
  2. 2.Laboratorio de Ecología de Insectos, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad de Los AndesMéridaVenezuela

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