A Spider That Masquerades as an Ant
THERE is a small spider that creeps into an anthill and lives undercover among its enemies. To avoid detection, it changes its appearance and behavior so as not to be noticed. This is important because if they are disturbed, ants can become quite vicious. Since the spider has a body different from the ant, this poses quite a challenge.
The ant has six legs and two antennae, while the spider has eight legs and no antennae. So how does the spider make itself appear to be an ant? Well, it runs about the anthill on six legs, and it projects its other two legs so that they appear to be antennae.
Furthermore, the spider moves its two imitation antennae quite credibly. It wiggles them in such a way that they are mistaken for ants’ antennae. This master of disguise can even imitate the jerky, zigzagging walk of ants!
The spider tries to be the perfect ant in every way, since being recognized as a resident of the anthill is vital to its safety. Within the anthill the spider receives protection from its natural enemies, including spider wasps. Songbirds, which consider the spider a delicacy, also leave it alone. Even spiders that hunt other spiders are fooled by the “antennae” of the imitator.
Yet, if a bird, lizard, or some other creature attacks the ant community, the spider quickly assumes its true identity and escapes. Spiders have better sight than ants, and they can jump, while ants cannot—all of which makes escape easier for them.
During the day, the spider does its best to remain undetected within the anthill. At night, however, it is active and will catch ants inside the very anthill in which it makes its home! If the spider’s activity is discovered, it takes advantage of its eight legs and escapes speedily.
The male spider may be joined in the anthill by a female companion. She evidences not only faithfulness to her mate but a good deal of initiative as well. She builds a protective cover of threads in the anthill, which protects not only her mate but her eggs too.
Undoubtedly there is much more to learn about this spider. Yet, the same can be said of most other species of animal life on earth. How fine it will be in the future to learn more about God’s intriguing creations!
[Picture on page 31]
A spider between two ants