Australian Journal of Zoology Australian Journal of Zoology Society
Evolutionary, molecular and comparative zoology

Exploitation of the green tree ant, Oecophylla smaragdina, by the salticid spider Cosmophasis bitaeniata

Rachel A. Allan and Mark A. Elgar

Australian Journal of Zoology 49(2) 129 - 137
Published: 2001


The salticid spider Cosmophasis bitaeniata is a myrmecophilic associate of the green tree ant, Oecophylla smaragdina. The abundance of C. bitaeniata on a tree or shrub is positively correlated with the number of nests of O. smaragdina on that vegetation. Experiments with captive spiders confirmed that the spiders prey on the larvae of their highly territorial and aggressive ant host, typically by removing the larvae from the mandibles of minor workers. C. bitaeniata avoids direct contact with major workers of O. smaragdina in daylight, but congeners elicited higher activity levels of major workers than either nestmate workers or C. bitaeniata. These data suggest thatC. bitaeniata may be an exploitative chemical mimic of its host.

© CSIRO 2001

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