Quirks & Quarks

Spider Uses Ants as Protection

Weaver ants normally kill spiders, but one jumping spider lives dangerously near ants in order to avoid even more dangerous spitting spiders....

A jumping spider in the Philippines uses its keen vision, sense of smell and incredibly strong cocoon-like nest to live near a dangerous predator, the weaver ant. New research by Dr. Ximena Nelson, a Senior Lecturer in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, found that the jumping spider is actually using the weaver ant colony for protection. In a lesser-of-two-evils scenario, the jumping spider is safer living with the ants than being exposed to another predator, scytodes, also known as the spitting spider. Scytodes knows it is no match for the thousands of hard-biting weaver ants, so it chooses to make its web elsewhere. In this way, the jumping spider is much safer in its ant-proof house. 

Related Links

  • Paper in Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology
  • Not Exactly Rocket Science blog
  • Entomology Today story