The natural history of Myrmarachne melanotarsa, a social ant‐mimicking jumping spider

Robert R. Jackson, Ximena J. Nelson*, Kathryn Salm

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Myrmarachne melanotarsa, an ant‐like jumping spider (Salticidae) from East Africa, is an accurate mimic of Crematogaster sp. and associates unusually closely with its models. M. melanotarsa is remarkable in that it forms dense aggregations and builds large nest complexes (numerous individually‐occupied nests connected to each other by silk). Other salticids (Pseudicius spp., Menemerus spp.) live with M. melanotarsa in the same nest complex. These aggregations, which can exceed 50 conspecific individuals per colony, are considerably larger than those few previously described, and seem to have primarily a protective function. We provide baseline information on the natural history of M. melanotarsa, paying particular attention to predatory behaviour and association with Crematogaster sp., and fit this within current theory on the function of sociality in spiders. Other unusual behaviour of M. melanotarsa includes “mouthing”, in which the spider opens and closes its chelicerae while pressing its mouthparts against nest silk. We investigated the role of prior presence of Crematogaster sp. on nest silk in eliciting this previously unreported behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-235
Number of pages11
JournalNew Zealand Journal of Zoology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Batesian mimicry
  • Crematogaster
  • Myrmarachne
  • Salticidae
  • Social spiders


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