Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
from the May 5, 2013 Newsletter issued from the Frio Canyon Nature Education Center in northern Uvalde County, southwestern Texas, on the southern border of the Edwards Plateau, USA
ANT MIMICKING SPIDER
The ant navigating among my arm's hairs caught my attention with its black-and-red abdomen. In general, ants aren't two-colored. Also, the shape wasn't quite right. Not being able to see too well and suspecting something interesting here, I snapped the picture shown below.
The moment that image came onto my laptop monitor I knew that my ant wasn't an ant, if for no other reason than that it had eight legs, and therefore wasn't even an insect. It's an ant-mimicking spider. The picture at the top of this page takes a closer look at the head region -- the cephalothorax -- making the point better.
With a little creative search-engine use on the keywords "ant mimicking spider texas" I was able to match my pictures with other pictures with their critters named PECKHAMIA AMERICANA. Apparently this ant-mimicking spider isn't graced with a common English name because it's recognized so rarely. Though it occurs from the northeastern US south and west into Mexico, little is known about it. It belongs to the Jumping Spider Family, the Salticidae.
Last December we profiled the Texas Bow-legged Bug, which was an ant mimicking bug (http://www.backyardnature.net/n/a/bow-leg.htm ) and now here's another ant mimicker. If there's a lesson here, I suppose it's that you can cut down on the number of predators chasing you -- or sneak up more easily on your own prey -- if you look like an ant.