Spiders Disguising Themselves As Ants

Emily Hirsch | January 2nd, 2019

If you are out and about walking around the park, next time you see an ant, be sure to correctly count its legs and make sure it actually is an ant. Some spiders have been known to disguise themselves as ants to hide from their predators. And this is not even a rare phenomenon, scientists have recently discovered that over 300 different types of spider species will mimic ants.

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And it may seem very strange to hide amongst hundreds of ants, but for example, take the Jumping Spider, it is has been observed that the predators that would eat a jumping spider are actually terrified of ant colonies. This means spiders have realized that they can camouflage themselves amongst ants and hide successfully.

For many spiders hiding amongst the ants is a perfect defense strategy, they simply put up their front legs as pretend antennas and then use their shiny hairs to mimic a false waist. But of course, for other species, the disguise is used to sneak up behind an unsuspecting ant and eat them up whole. They tend to hunt the stray ants so not to fall victim to the whole colony, but some are known to be particularly daring and sneak into the whole colony to feast on their eggs.

This means that the disguise is not only a way to avoid being eaten by hungry predators, it also provides the spiders with a unique ability to perform a sneak attack.

The evolution for achieving the perfect ant disguise happened slowly and over a large amount of time, it was not like usual traits where the animal may just mimic a cry temporarily. The needed features were selected carefully, each morph of the spider bringing it closer to its ant cousins. In fact, everything that made the spider resemble a spider was removed!

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