Brief Summary

    Ant spider: Brief Summary
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     src= male Mallinella fulvipes  src= female Mallinella shimojanai

    Ant spiders are members of the family Zodariidae. They are small to medium-sized eight-eyed spiders found world-wide in tropical to warm temperate regions, though there are relatively few species in North America.

    Some zodariids are ant mimics. Although ant mimicry is quite common in spiders, the form it takes in the zodariids is unusual because, although each species bears a morphological resemblance to the species of ant that forms its prey, the resemblance is not particularly close. It is enhanced by the spider's behaviour. The spiders live in association with a nest of ants of their prey species, and use their mimicry to enter and leave the nest unmolested (if the ants detected them as intruders they would mass to repel and perhaps kill them). The spiders walk on only the three rear pairs of legs, and if they encounter an ant during their forays into the nest territory, they touch their front legs to the ant's antennae in the same way as another ant would with its own antennae. If they have already captured an ant, they then offer that towards the challenging ant, which inspects it and behaves towards the spider as if it were another ant carrying a dead conspecific away from the nest (a common behaviour among ants).

    It is likely that the spiders also derive some protection against predation from their similarity to the ants, since ants are unpalatable to many species that eat spiders.

    Brief Summary
    provided by EOL authors

    The spider family Zodariidae includes 1074 described species (Platnick 2014). These are burrowing spiders with long anterior spinnerets (Jocqué 1991). Although little is known about most zodariids, members of the genus Zodarion apparently feed only on ants; a number of other genera in the family are apparently also ant (or termite) specialists. Only 5 species have been described from North America north of Mexico (all rarely encountered), including four species of Lutica (endemic to the southern coast and offshore islands of California south to Baja California) and a single Zodarion species, the Eurasian Z. rubidum. In North America, Z. rubidum was first recorded in Pennsylvania (as Z. fulvonigrum) by Vogel (1968), but was recognized as Z. rubidum by Bosmans (1994) and subsequently recorded from Colorado by Cushing and Santangelo (2002) and from Québec by Paquin and Dupérré (2006); according to Bradley (2013), it has also been found in Ohio and British Columbia. In central California, there is apparently a Zodarion species found in serpentine grassland habitats that can be seen running along the ground and rocks even during the hottest part of the day, suggesting this is a species distinct from the nocturnal Z. rubidum. According to Roth (1994), there is also an undescribed fifth species of Lutica known from the coast of California.(Ubick and Craig 2005)

    The phylogeny and historical biogeography of Lutica were investigated by Ramírez and Beckwitt (1995) using allozyme electrophoresis. Lutica spiders are found along coastal sand dunes, where they live in underground silken burrows and capture prey by biting through the burrow walls (Ramírez 1995). Zodarion rubidum are found on and beneath rocks, where they build retreats covered with sand grains and feed on ants (Jocqué 1991). An ant is typically attacked with a bite on the leg, to which the ant may respond by grooming or even removing the leg. Eventually (sometimes after additional bites), paralysis sets in and the spider removes the paralyzed ant to begin feeding on it. (Cushing and Santangelo 2002).

    (Ubick and Craig 2005)

Comprehensive Description