Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Ant-Mimicking Jumping Spider

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Unfortunately, no species ID yet (can you ID this spider?), but the mimicry in both form and behavior is truly beautiful, astonishing, really.

Video: Thomas Shahan [Thomas Shahan's photostream]

Comments

  1. #1 TEO
    October 26, 2009

    Great video. I live in Argentina, and have found in my garden one of these mimicking spiders. It was an almost-perfect copy of a Camponotus ant, with silvery grey abdomen and all.
    I´ve also seen ant-mimicking bugs, and a wasp-mimicking fly. The last one was an amazing copy of a big paper wasp, you could only tell them apart by the fly-like head and the tiny halteres.

  2. #2 Chester Burton Brown
    October 26, 2009

    Who even knew arachnids were so enthusiastic about Hallowe’en?

    Seriously, that is an amazing video. My question as a lay person is this: how does the spider species benefit from this particular subterfuge? Are the spider’s usual prey unintimidated by ants? Are Camponoti known as pushovers?

    Thanks for posting. My daughter, a budding entomologist, will love this.

    Yours,
    CBB

  3. #3 "GrrlScientist"
    October 26, 2009

    CBB: pleased to give your daughter something fascinating to think about. i am not a “spiderologist” (i study evolution of birds), so i can’t ID the species — which would help me provide a more accurate explanation. however, that said, i do know that jumping spiders are active predators that hunt down their prey instead of “sit and wait” predators as most spiders are (who wait for their lunch to blunder into their webs). in this case, mimicry would allow jumping spiders to mingle with ants without being detected (i assume that these spiders also mimic the ants’ pheromones so ants are completely fooled). i suspect that these ant-mimicking spiders live among their lunch (the ants in their nests) and thus are able to eat whenever they are hungry. but until a species ID is provided, my comments are merely speculation based on what i know about evolution and biomimicry.

  4. #4 meeb
    October 26, 2009

    It’s a species of jumping spider, from the genus Myrmarachne, possibly Myrmarachne Assimilis or Myrmarachne Plataleoides. Still pretty cool though.

  5. #5 Hans
    October 26, 2009

    Maybe it’s a jumping spider mimicking an ant? :p Either way, very impressive.

  6. #6 Joyce
    October 26, 2009

    It’s a jumping spider of the genus Peckhamia. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to identify it to species from a video, but there are 6 species of Peckhamia found in the US.

  7. #7 David
    October 26, 2009

    Definitely a jumping spider from the genus Peckhamia… I believe only four species are found in the US, and we can discount americana because of color (black), likewise scorpionia (mustard-brown), and also seminola because of location (only Florida), so this is possibly P. spicata

    photo of Peckhamia spicata

    diagnostic drawing of P. spicata

    Other species in the genus: americana (US and Mexico), argentinensis (Argentina), prescotti (El Salvador, Panama), seminola (US), scorpionia (US and Canada), variegata (Panama)

  8. #8 IanW
    October 27, 2009

    You’re not reading your sciblings. Didn’t Ed Yong cover this a short while ago?

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