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Ant-mimicking Jumping Spider

Myrmaplata plataleoides

Description:

Salticidae; Salticinae; Myrmaplata; M. plataleoides (O. Pickard-Cambridge, 1869). The spiders in the above pictures are both M. plataleoides females. According to Wikipedia, this species "mimics the Asian Weaver Ant (Oecophylla smaragdina)". In my spotting immediately prior to this one; https://www.projectnoah.org/spottings/21... you can see how pathetically the male of this species mimics these ants, but the females have evolved to look so much like the ants, that one might be hard pressed to tell the difference between female spider and ant.

Habitat:

These two Myrmaplata plataleoides females were spotted at the same time in the rice mill front yard. The pictures were taken within one minute of each other. The first one was sitting on the lid of a polystyrene ice box and the other was on a fabric bag. So what was the real habitat of these two spiders? Fortunately, it was not so difficult to work out. Both the ice box and the bag were at the end of the concrete forecourt, right next to a Pomelo Tree (Citrus maxima) and at that time, according to my notes, there was a nest of Red Weaver Ants (Oecophylla smaragdina) in the tree.

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4 Comments

John B.
John B. 2 months ago

To: tomk3886
If you take a look at the Behaviour section in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myrmaplata...
there is a brief reference to the spiders "stealing from the ant brood". I can only imagine this means that the spider enters the brood chamber and picks up a larva and walks off with it. I can understand the female spiders being able to do just that. However, the male spiders see my spotting https://www.projectnoah.org/spottings/21... are described in wiki as follows "The males give the appearance of a weaver ant carrying a minor worker due to their elongated chelicerae which may be as long as one-third to half their body length". Now, to me, it becomes slightly implausible that a male could pass itself off as an ant carrying a minor worker carrying a larva. I just don't feel comfortable with the information that is being put out there for us amateur enthusiasts to accept unquestioningly. Of course, I have to keep reminding myself that there are people out there who are undoubtedly well qualified and who are devoting much of their lives to studying these things for the benefit of the rest of us. Perhaps I should learn to be less skeptical and much more willing to accept their scientific findings and also avoid getting in over my head :-) John B.

tomk3886
tomk3886 2 months ago

Your description of the ants makes me think avoiding predation is the more logical answer. But do the the spiders prey on the ants?

John B.
John B. 2 months ago

To: tomk3886
Thank you for your question. It goes right to the heart of the matter. I could say it is a great question or an interesting question, but in reality, it is the ONLY QUESTION when discussing Ant-mimicking Spiders. Your practical experience in archaeology and paleontology has probably helped, but I can see, by looking at some of your spottings that you have a very enquiring mind. I would love to be able to give you a decent answer. But the truth is I don’t know. The information out there is full of perhaps…it is thought by some….many arachnologists believe that..etc., etc. In truth I really don’t think that a complete and thorough study has been carried out. At least, I have not seen one. Where I live, the landscape is dotted with various citrus trees, some wild and some cultivated. On our own land, we must have 30 or 40 of them. These are the host plants, here in Philippines, for Oecophylla smaragdina (Red Weaver Ants). Almost every citrus tree has an ant nest in it. When I am out and about, I have to be careful not to brush up against one of these trees. The result would be very unpleasant and would tend to bring to an end my bug hunting for the rest of the day. When disturbed, these ants will swarm all over you and they have a nasty bite. They might also shower you with formic acid. They kind of squirt it at you, I’m not sure if from the front end or the back end, but if it gets in your eyes it is pretty painful for a while. But why am I talking about the ants when you asked me about the spiders. Well, you can see that to study the spider/ant interaction, you would have to spend a lot of time up close to these ants and I would not want to try that. I don‘t know if anyone has truly been able to study this subject properly, but I would love to find out. If you come across anything of note in this field, please let me know. Best regards, John B.

tomk3886
tomk3886 2 months ago

Amazing mimics! Are they preying on the ants or avoiding predation by looking like the ants? Or both ?

John B.
Spotted by
John B.

Palauig, Central Luzon, Philippines

Spotted on Apr 18, 2016
Submitted on Jul 17, 2022

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