Many animals use chemical cues to detect conspecifics and predators. On sandstone outcrops, flat rock spiders Morebilus plagusius and Polyrachis ants use sun-exposed rocks as nest sites, and defend rocks from intruders. We investigated whether chemical cues influenced retreat-site selection by spiders. In the field, spiders showed significant avoidance of rocks used by ants. In laboratory trials, we gave spiders the choice between conspecific-scented and unscented refuges, and ant-scented and unscented refuges. In conspecific scent trials, spiders showed no avoidance of spider scented refuges during the night, but significantly more spiders chose unscented refuges as their diurnal retreat-site. In ant scent trials, spiders made more visits to unscented refuges than ant-scented refuges during the night, and significantly more spiders chose unscented refuges as their diurnal retreat site. Our results demonstrate that spiders can detect chemical cues from ants and conspecifics, and that such cues influence retreat-site selection.
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