Readers’ wildlife photos

May 18, 2020 • 7:45 am

Today we have one of my favorite creatures—jumping spiders (“salticids”)—photographed by Tony Eales from Brisbane. His notes are indented below:

Jumping spiders.

I’m a big fan of ant-mimicking jumping spiders. Some of them have extreme modifications to the basic spider body plan as well as behaviours like holding their forelegs up to imitate antenna. However this is the first time I’ve seen this. This ant mimic Myrmarachne sp. imitates rattle antsPolyrhachis (Cyrtomyrma) sp. These are formicine ants, meaning they have no sting and instead spray a nasty formic acid chemical cocktail at attackers and prey. When threatened, they sling their abdomens underneath their body ready to spray anything that gets too close. This ant-mimicking spider seems to also be able to mimic this distinctive posture.

Males like this one are very easy to distinguish from ants, at least to our eyes because of the extraordinary long jaws. The females however are indistinguishable at a glance from the ants they mimic.

These male jaws are amazing sexual features. I had the good fortune to find a male the other day that seemed to be obsessed with opening and flexing its jaws, not something they tend to do for more than a quick second usually.

And remember: six legs ant; eight legs spider.

Look at those gaping jaws!


The ant:

JAC: A female. Note how their first pair of legs resembles the antennae of an ant:


I found another ant mimic, Myrmarachne cf bicolor, in my back yard. As you can see from this one on my finger, they are very small. These ants mimic strobe antsOpisthopsis sp. Again, not a stinging ant. In fact, we have a number of rather painful stinging ants, but I can’t think of any jumping spiders that mimic these ants. They always seem to mimic formicine ants.

Finally a few cute pictures of tiny juvenile jumping spiders having a munch.

16 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. I presume those jaws are for jousting with other males. Or are they just display?

    That baby jumping spider is kinda cute, this coming from someone who has a deep atavistic loathing of spidery looks, which I struggle to contain (though I never kill them and I always save them from those who would!).

    1. I would have guessed the jaws are to hang on to the female during copulation. And I also notice that jumping spiders seem less creepy, somehow.

      Nice photos Tony!

      1. You might be right about the use of the jaws. Male spiders do have to put a lot of effort into not being eaten by their sexual partners. I think jumping spiders are cute looking because of the large forward facing eyes

    2. I have to say, I think a lot of jumping spiders are honestly cute, especially the furry ones! Those eyes just look so sweet. But then, I’ve always liked spiders, so I’m biased.

  2. Great stuff, Tony! That is amazing. Always a pleasure too to see how species a long ways away can resemble related species up here. Your Myrmarachne is a close match to a species we have, for example. Probably b/c some of our ants are similar, come to think of it.

    1. Yes I’ve looked at Myrmarachne from all over the world on iNaturalist and seen them in Borneo and they all look very similar. Whether this is convergence or relatedness I don’t know. I’ve been looking and I can’t seem to find much molecular phylogenetic work on spiders anywhere. It would really help tie down some of these questions.

  3. Not overly fond of spiders but I will try to rescue abd relocate those tiny jumpers when they come inside. Armed with a tissue (hopefully the idea is they are supposed to jump inside an open tissue) it can prove to be an episode and a half to capture one.

    One of your photos though … Eek! That ant looks too much like an earwig to me.

    1. I can’t disagree about earwigs. I’m someone who even admires the sleek outline of palmetto bugs (to my detriment at times), but when I’m not expecting them, earwigs can throw me for a loop. Are they coming, are they going, what?

    2. I use an old clear container with a plastic lid. Get them to get into the container (e.g. if on a wall or ceiling, put the bowl over them, then when then are off the surface, slap on the lid) and then when you take them outside you just take off the lid and release.

      I got my first catcher by reusing an old beta (fish) plastic container that I brought home from a pet store.

  4. Incredible mimicry. I love all the colors of the last fuzzy spider. From a technical perspective, these are really good photographs.

  5. What kick-ass spiders! What we have in our species is a problem with scale. Now can you imagine if these little monsters really ranged from say, 6-20ft (or meters) in size? We’d have Jurassic Zoos all over the place (assuming our species wasn’t eaten by them hundreds of thousands of years ago that is…).
    Or your beloved drosophilia – at 3-5ft long buzzing over traffic on the BQE?
    Very. D.A., J.D., NYC

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