While animals’ evolutionary techniques are frequently out of the ordinary, certain spiders take it to a whole new level.
Spiders have developed in such a manner that they may acquire features that help them hunt while also allowing them to escape being preyed upon. When we examine different spider species, we can notice a wide range of abilities that arachnids have acquired in order to become one of the world’s most infamous hunters. Some spiders, for example, wrap their bodies around tree limbs to provide excellent concealment, while others make bubble dive suits and spend their whole lives underwater. More than 300 spider species, on the other hand, have adopted a completely opposite strategy: they disguise themselves as ants to penetrate nests for hunting and to avoid being discovered by other predators.
Ants are exceedingly harmful to other arthropods, and those that enter their domain must contend with their powerful teeth and chemical defenses. Furthermore, ants are voracious predators that would gladly swallow everything that comes their way. As a result, spiders are aware that ants are not to be trifled with. So why not imitate them instead? This allows the spider to stay near to its food supply while also protecting itself from predators such as mantises and other spiders.
There are many techniques to this sort of invasion because there are so many ant imitating spider species. Some spiders may merely use the presence of ants to elude other predators, such as jumping spiders, who are then preyed upon by the ferocious spitting spiders. They weave their webs over the nests of jumping spiders for an easy feast, placing themselves just next to their prey. Weaver ants, on the other hand, provide such effective security for jumping spiders that if they establish their nest near a weaver ant colony, the spitting spiders will avoid it.
Different species, on the other hand, go to great lengths to exploit the social aspect of ant colonies, which may include millions of people. They’ve evolved narrow waists and reflecting hair, giving them the appearance of an ant. They may even act as though they had antennae by bringing their front legs up to their heads. Chemical mimicry is a technique used by some spiders to fool ants.
Spiders may actually dwell within ants’ nests, which provides them with a safe habitat and lots of ants, or larvae, to feed on, thanks to these advantages. For example, the spider Gamasomorpha maschwitzi can dwell amid army ants and prey on them on a regular basis because it can pick up the ants’ chemical scents. Cosmophasis bitaeniata, a leaping spider that can infiltrate ant nests and consume their larvae, is another example.
Living in close proximity to ant colonies, as well as this type of mimicry, has its own set of drawbacks and risks. Female ant-mimicking spiders lay fewer eggs than ordinary spiders of equal size because their bodies are so thin. When ants are nearby, spiders are less inclined to mate.
The spiders’ greatest danger, though, is that they will lose their cover. If the ants discover that one of their colony members is actually a spider, they will react violently, and their retaliation will be devastating.