Prey specialization and the predatory behavior of two European ant-eating zodariid spiders, Zodarion germanicum and Zodarion rubidum, were studied in detail. The spiders were offered 12 ant species and seven other insects (termites, beetles, aphids, silverfish, flies, crickets and grasshoppers). Study spiders turned out to be ant specialists as they were able to subdue many ant species but ignored all other insects, except termites, which they attacked but rarely subdued. The best capture success was obtained with medium-sized ants (e.g. Lasius and Formica). The predatory behavior of the zodariid spiders involves an attacking and a handling phase separated by a period of waiting at a safe distance. The attacking phase consisted of a very rapid lunge from the rear, followed by a bite on the most extended ant leg. After an attack, the spider retreated to a safe distance, perhaps an indication that natural selection has favored such caution in the presence of an aggressive prey. The spider waited until the ant ceased moving. Such predatory behavior, which limits contact with the predator and prey, is clearly an effective means of handling a dangerous prey.
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