Myrmecos

Location, location, location

widow1

Widow spider and harvester ants. Hallelujah Junction, California

This young black widow (Latrodectus hesperus) set up shop above the nest entrance of a colony of Pogonomyrmex harvester ants.  It’s an all-you-can-eat buffet, allowing the spider nearly unlimited pickings as the ants come and go.

The spider’s mottled coloration is typical of young widows; they don’t acquire the striking black and red warning garb until maturity.

photo details: Canon 100mm f2.8 macro lens on a Canon EOS D60

ISO 100, 1/200 sec, f/11, MT-24EX twin flash

Comments

  1. #1 Huckleberry Days
    January 27, 2009

    It’s interesting that the ants don’t see the spider as a threat with it set up so close to the entrance.

  2. #2 myrmecos
    January 27, 2009

    Apparently, the ants are supposed to have defenses:

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/v524u7731084w256/

    However, this particular nest had not seemed to recognize the existence of the predator. At least, not during the bit I observed.

  3. #3 Ant
    January 30, 2009

    How long has the spider been there?

  4. #4 Kevin Lentz
    February 4, 2009

    You sure that is a Latrodectus? Looks more like a Steatoda to me(Steatoda are also more commonly found feeding on ants than Latrodectus)…

    Anyways, great photo.

  5. #5 myrmecos
    February 5, 2009

    Yeah, I spent a fair amount of time looking at the series of photos trying to ID the thing. But, I’m pretty confident that it’s Latrodectus. Adults are common as dirt at that site, and one of my photos shows the telltale hourglass on the abdomen (not visible in this shot).

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