Which of these arthropods is an ant?


Here is a video I did a while back on ant mimics. In the video I say that you can type “MIMIC” to recieve the free PDF; however, that only works on facebook. You can also download the PDF from here: Ant Mimic Bug Quiz Answers

So, how can you tell mimics apart from ants? Here is a list of characters you can use to tell if a critter is an ant:

  • Three pairs of legs (six legs total). Ants have six legs, while spiders have eight legs.
  • Ants have geniculate antennae (“kneed” antennae).
  • The second and/or third abdominal segment has a/have hump(s).

Why do other arthropods mimic ants?

Myrmecomorphy (a fancy word for “ant mimicry”) provides protection from a lot of predators or is a great way for predators to fool their ant prey. Therefore, the form of mimicry is either protective or aggressive. Most organisms do not want to eat ants (of course, there are some exceptions) because many (although not all) ants sting and/or bite, are aggressive, and/or taste bitter. In the case of a few predators, they have evolved to look and/or smell like their ant prey that they hunt. Ants are fierce, so being able to get close is an advantage to those organisms that want to eat them.

These are the ways in which organisms can mimic ants:

  • Smelling like an ant (Wasmannian mimicry)
  • Behaving like an ant (running around like one)
  • Visually looking like an ant (Batesian mimicry)

They are many examples of ant mimics! Many spiders, treehoppers, mantids, stick insects, katydids, etc. mimic ants. Happy hunting!

Photo credits: Top (A) & bottom (C) left = Alex Wild. Top right (B) = Daniel Llavaneras. Bottom right (D) = Muhammad Mahdi Karim.

About JoanieTheEntomologist

PhD candidate in entomology.
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