Ant mimic jumping spiders are fascinating creatures known for their unique ability to imitate ants in order to avoid predators.
These tiny spiders, belonging to the family Salticidae, exhibit an impressive range of sizes and color patterns, making them visually interesting to observe.
One of the reasons these jumping spiders mimic ants is because ants are known for their aggressive defense mechanisms, such as bites, stings, and formic acid.
Predators are often deterred by these traits, which make the ant mimic spiders a less appealing meal.
Besides, these spiders are known for their remarkable hunting skills. They stalk their prey during the day and attack in a swift leap, aided by their excellent eyesight and sensitivity to movement.
Overview of Ant Mimic Jumping Spiders
Species and Evolution
Ant mimic jumping spiders imitate ants to avoid predators. This spider has evolved its to look and act like ants. These spiders exhibit:
- Ant-like appearance
- Similar behaviors to ants
- Improved survival rate due to ant mimicry
There are different species of jumping spiders that practice ant mimicry, each evolving independently to resemble ants in their habitats.
Habitats and Geographic Locations
Jumping spiders can be found in various environments, such as gardens, around homes, and in tropical regions.
For example, the Phidippus audax or Orchard spider is black with a distinct orange to white spot and is commonly spotted in gardens.
Some ant mimic jumping spiders like Menemerus bivittatus and Plexippus paykulli can be found in Florida and have been imported from the tropical Old World.
|Phidippus audax||Orchard Spider||Gardens and around homes|
|Menemerus bivittatus||Gray Wall Jumper||Florida, imported from the tropical Old World|
|Plexippus paykulli||Pantropical Jumper||Florida, imported from the tropical Old World|
These spiders adapt to their habitats, mimicking the appearance and behavior of ants native to their geographic location.
The Art of Mimicry
Ant-mimic jumping spiders have some remarkable adaptations to resemble ants. They possess:
- Long, slender bodies
- Elongated abdomen segments
- Antennae-like front legs
These features help the spiders effectively camouflage themselves as ants, which are less appealing prey to predators due to their aggressive defense mechanisms, including bites, stings, and formic acid .
Movement and Gait
Jumping spiders don’t just look like ants; they also mimic their movement patterns.
An essential aspect of jumping spider ant mimicry is their ability to move in a manner that resembles ants’ gait. They do this by:
- Moving their antennae-like front legs in tandem with their steps
- Using short, jerky movements
- Pausing intermittently
These movement patterns deceive predators into thinking they are ants, thus increasing their chances of escaping unharmed .
Coloration and Camouflage
In addition to their physical features and movements, ant mimic jumping spiders also employ coloration and camouflage techniques to enhance their ant-like appearance.
Some of these techniques include:
- A body coloration that matches the ants they are mimicking
- Spots on their abdomen that resemble ant thorax segments
- Concealing their chelicerae (mouthparts) to reduce the visibility of spider-specific features
By combining these strategies, ant-mimic jumping spiders successfully deceive their predators, which results in a lower rate of attacks compared to their non-mimic counterparts .
|Feature||Ant-mimic Jumping Spiders||Non-mimic Jumping Spiders|
|Antennae-like front legs||Yes||No|
|Elongated abdomen segments||Yes||No|
|Movement and Gait|
|Ant-like movement patterns||Yes||No|
|Coloration and Camouflage|
|Body coloration matching ants||Yes||No|
|Spots resembling ant thorax||Yes||No|
Role of Mimicry in Hunting
Ant-mimicking jumping spiders use mimicry to improve their hunting success. These spiders imitate ants to:
- Avoid predators
- Get close to their prey
Mimicking ants has its benefits, as ants are:
- Aggressive defenders
- Equipped with bites, stings, and formic acid
Venom and Hunting Techniques
Jumping spiders are active predators, known for their:
- Ability to jump several times their body length
- Hairy bodies with colorful markings
Their main hunting techniques include:
- Stalking prey
- Attacking with a fast leap
These spiders use their venom to:
- Immobilize prey
- Aid in digestion
Common prey for jumping spiders include insects and other spiders.
|Prey Type||Hunted by Jumping Spiders?|
|Ants||Rarely (mimicry involved)|
Jumping spiders are versatile hunters, able to adapt their behavior based on the available prey. Mimicry and agility make them successful predators in various environments.
Ant-mimic jumping spiders use Batesian mimicry as their primary defense strategy.
This means they imitate ants, which are typically aggressive and well-armed with biting mandibles, spiny defenses, and formic acid1.
By looking and behaving like ants, they are avoided by predators that do not want to risk being injured or sprayed with formic acid.
Imperfect Mimicry vs. Perfect Mimicry
There are two types of mimicry in nature:
- Imperfect mimicry: Involves some resemblance to the model, but not an exact replica
- Perfect mimicry: A nearly identical copy of the model’s appearance
In the case of ant-mimic jumping spiders, their mimicry is imperfect but still effective.
One example is the Myrmarachne formicaria2. It moves similarly to ants, but does not have an exact ant body structure.
Features of ant-mimic jumping spiders:
- Eight legs (as opposed to ants’ six)
- Four eyes rather than three distinct ocelli (ant eyes)
- Same color as ants, but lacking segmentation or other specific ant features
To further deter predators, ant-mimic jumping spiders have evolved to produce their own chemical repellants.
This supplements their physical and behavioral defenses, making them a highly unattractive target for predators.
- Combination of physical Batesian mimicry and chemical defenses
- Ant mimics produce chemical scents that are unpleasant to predators
Jumping spiders’ chemical defenses add an extra layer of protection, helping them increase their chances of survival.
- Effective in deterring predators
- Can work in combination with physical mimicry
- May not be enough on its own to avoid predation
- Requires constant adaptation to evolving predator chemoreceptors
Other Ant Mimic Relations
Mating Dances and Courtship Rituals
The ant-mimicking jumping spider is known for its fascinating mating dances and courtship rituals. These spiders perform elaborate displays to attract their mates. Some key features:
- Dance steps: Quick and rhythmic movements to grab the attention of the potential mate
- Vibrations: Complex vibrational signals using their legs
- Visual cues: Bright colors and patterns on their bodies
Interaction with Other Spiders
Ant-mimicking jumping spiders interact with various spider species, including spider-eating spiders. Some interactions involve:
- Predation avoidance: The resemblance to ants helps them avoid being hunted by these predator spiders
- Competition: They compete with other spiders for food sources, mainly insects like praying mantises
|Characteristic||Ant-mimicking Jumping Spider||Praying Mantis|
|Appearance||Mimics ants in size and color||Long and slender with wings|
|Predators||Avoid spiders, birds, and mantises||Birds, spiders, and crematogaster ants|
|Hunting technique||Ambush and pounce||Stealth, patience, and camouflage|
|Mating ritual||Elaborate dances||Decapitation of the male by the female|
By mimicking ants, these jumping spiders showcase a unique strategy to survive and reproduce in their environment. Their intriguing behavior adds diversity to the complex world of spider interactions.
Notable Ant Mimicking Spider Species
Portia Labiata is an impressive ant-mimic jumping spider species prevalent in various regions such as Japan and southern Hainan.
This spider is known for its extraordinary intelligence and ability to problem-solve. Portia Labiata can also exhibit a wide range of hunting tactics.
Key features of Portia Labiata:
- Highly intelligent
- Problem-solving ability
- Wide range of hunting tactics
Myrmarachne Formicaria, commonly found in China, is another remarkable ant-mimicking spider.
Its physical appearance closely resembles ants, allowing it to camouflage with ants and evade predators.
Myrmarachne Formicaria showcases aggressive mimicry, utilizing its appearance to hunt for insects.
Key characteristics of Myrmarachne Formicaria:
- Physical resemblance to ants
- Camouflage ability
- Aggressive mimicry
Siler Collingwoodi is an ant-mimicking jumping spider species. It mainly inhabits regions where ants are abundant.
Similar to the other species mentioned above, Siler Collingwoodi also exhibits adaptive strategies to blend in with its surrounding, enabling it to escape predators and hunt for insects.
Main features of Siler Collingwoodi:
- Ant-like appearance
- Adaptive strategies
- Predation avoidance
|Spider Species||Key Features||Regions|
|Portia Labiata||Intelligent, problem-solving||Japan, southern Hainan|
|Myrmarachne Formicaria||Ant-like appearance, mimicry||China|
|Siler Collingwoodi||Ant-like appearance, adaptive||Ant-abundant regions|
These three ant-mimicking spider species showcase fascinating features that help them evade predators and hunt for insects in their respective habitats.
Scientific Research and Observations
Evolutionary ecologist Wei Zhang’s iScience paper showcased the wild ant-mimicking spiders’ ability to mimic individual limbs of ants. They can adjust their acceleration and trajectory to achieve movement mimicry. These abilities point to their unique adaptation for survival.
Monochromatic Visual System
Ant mimic jumping spiders possess a monochromatic visual system. It allows them to differentiate between various shades of gray and recognize their prey.
Key features of ant mimic jumping spiders:
- Pretend to be ants
- Adjust acceleration and trajectory for movement mimicry
- Monochromatic visual system
|Feature||Ant Mimic Jumping Spider||Regular Jumping Spider|
|Recognition of prey||Yes||Yes|
|Ability to jump||Yes||Yes|
Plants Associated with Ant Mimicking Spiders
West Indian Jasmine
Ant mimic jumping spiders, such as Gonypeta brunneri, are often found on West Indian Jasmine plants. Some features of this plant are:
- Beautiful white or pink flowers
- Attracts insects for the spiders to prey on
This association provides a suitable habitat and hunting ground for the spiders.
Fukien Tea Tree
Another plant associated with ant mimic jumping spiders is the Fukien Tea Tree or Carmona microphylla. Key characteristics of this plant include:
- Small white flowers
- Often used for bonsai
Spiders may choose this tree as their habitat due to its dense foliage and insects for prey.
Lastly, the Ixora Chinensis also has a relationship with ant mimic jumping spiders. Some features of this plant are:
- Dense clusters of red or yellow flowers
- Attracts a variety of insects
Spiders find this plant ideal for hiding and hunting.
|West Indian Jasmine||Beautiful white or pink flowers, attracts insects|
|Fukien Tea Tree||Small white flowers, dense foliage, often used for bonsai|
|Ixora Chinensis||Dense clusters of red or yellow flowers, attracts many insects|
This table compares the plants associated with ant mimic jumping spiders, highlighting the different features that make them attractive habitats for these spiders.
Ant mimic jumping spiders are intriguing creatures that imitate ants to deter predators.
Their unique ability to mimic ants’ appearance, behavior, and chemical defense makes them less appealing prey.
With remarkable hunting skills and visual adaptations, these spiders successfully survive in various habitats.
Over the years, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.
Letter 1 – Ant-Mimic Jumping Spider
some kind of tiny spider
i got some great pics of this little guy; perhaps you can help me
identify him. the drain he’s posing by is 2.5″ across, so he’s quite tiny.
i live in south florida. thanks, i’m in love with your site.
This is an Ant-Mimic Jumping Spider, possibly Peckhamia picata. Jumping Spiders, Family Salticidae, are good hunters, do not build webs, and have excellent eyesight. Most are very small, but not as small as your little one.
Letter 2 – Ant Mimic Jumping Spider
Ant with Claws
March 28, 2010
Hi, a couple years ago i found this ant with claws in my house. I’ve searched different things on google but still have not come across any pictures that look like this and i just found this site and i hope you can identify it
Ants are insects and have six legs. Your creature has eight legs, plus the claws. We are nearly certain this is an Ant Mimic Jumping Spider, and we believe based on the pedipalps which you call claws, that this is a male.
April 11, 2010
Rich provided a comment identifying this as possibly Myrmarachne formicaria, and we just found photos of that species on BugGuide while trying to identify another Jumping Spider.
Letter 3 – Bug of the Month September 2016: Ant Mimic Jumping Spider
Subject: Ant with enlarged head?
Location: Rochester, NY
August 30, 2016 10:18 am
Hi, I was studying in my dorm room in Rochester, NY when I noticed a little bug go scurrying by. At first I just thought it was ant carrying something black, but I quickly realized it was something far weirder. I was hoping you could identify it. Thanks.
Because we have gotten so many comments on the posting this summer, earlier in the week, we began featuring a five year old posting of an Ant Mimic Jumping Spider, Myrmarachne formicaria, a species that was “Recently introduced from Europe” according to BugGuide where the range is listed as “Roughly Cleveland, OH to Buffalo, NY.”
BugGuide also notes: “The first specimen records of M. formicaria from North America have all been from Ohio, USA: from Warren, Trumble County on 16 August 2001; the J.H. Barrow Field Station, Portage County on 15 September 2002; and at a residence near Peninsula, Summit County. Additional individuals have been observed by the third author in and around the J.H. Barrow Field Station and the Peninsula residence during the summers of 2003 and 2004. ” Because of the timeliness of your submission, we have decided to make it the Bug of the Month for September 2016. Readers who want to see a better image can use this BugGuide image for comparison. If you have a sighting, please leave a comment with your location. If you have your own image, you may submit it using the Ask What’s That Bug? link on our site. We don’t know how this introduction will affect our native ecosystem, but it is possible that this Ant Mimic Jumping Spider may begin to displace native Jumping Spiders if it is a more efficient predator or if it preys upon our native species, and for that reason we are tagging it as an Invasive Exotic species.