Ant-like appearance (myrmecomorphy) has evolved >70 times in insects and spiders, accounting for >2,000 species of myrmecomorphic arthropods. Most myrmecomorphic spiders are considered to be Batesian mimics; that is, a palatable spider avoids predation through resemblance to an unpalatable ant—although this presumption has been tested in relatively few cases. Here we explicitly examined the extent to which Peckhamia picata (Salticidae), a North American ant-mimicking jumping spider, is protected from four species of jumping spider predators, relative to nonmimetic salticids and model ants. In addition, we conducted focused behavioral observations on one salticid predator, Thiodina puerpera, to determine the point at which the predators' behaviors toward model, mimic, and nonmimic diverge. We also examined the behaviors of Peckhamia in the presence of Thiodina. We found that mimetic jumping spiders were consumed less than a third as often as nonmimetic jumping spiders, suggesting that Peckhamia does indeed gain protection as a result of its resemblance to ants, and so can be considered a Batesian mimic. Furthermore, our focal predator did not consume any ant-mimicking spiders, and seemed to categorize Peckhamia with its model ant early in the hunting sequence. Such early determination of prey versus nonprey may be the result of speed-accuracy trade-offs in predator decision-making.
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