Castianeira amoena - A Spider Mimicking a Wasp Mimicking an Ant

Tricky, tricky nature. Have you ever seen a Velvet Ant? They are a pretty red and black. They are covered in soft, downy, velvety hairs. They look cute enough to hug. But don't. Another common name for the Velvet Ant is Cow Killer- thus named because its sting is so painful. Therefore, stepping on this ant is not adviseable- because it stings- really hard- and it isn't an ant- it is a female wingless wasp. Oh, tricky, tricky nature.

You are a smart homo sapien. You have been endowed with the ability to learn- so you have learned not to step on Velvet Ants- because their sting is really very painful. Therefore, having learned from nature, when you see the above, pictured SPIDER walking on the ground- do you step on it? Probably not. Because, it walks very fast and it looks like the pain inducing VELVET ANT.

It is the Castianeira amoena spider. That is its scientific name- I don't know its common name- so I hereby declare it to be the Velvet Ant Mimic. And, as I have already noted- the Velvet Ant is a wasp that is an ant mimic. Did you follow all that? This is a spider that mimics a wasp that mimics an ant. In fact, it looks so much like an ant that scientists have placed it in the Corinnidae family which is the scientific family of Antmimics and Ground Sac Spiders.


I hereby submit nominations for the Castianeira amoena spider for the following award: Best Mimic of a Spider Mimicking a Wasp Mimicking an Ant.
Note: After I posted this article, my friend Steve had a good question regarding the spider's need to mimic an ant (see his comment below.) I have since read a great article regarding this question. Here is a link to the article: http://www.wildwanderer.com/journal/?p=29

There are also flies that mimic ants: http://sparkleberrysprings.com/v-web/b2/index.php?m=200607

8 comments:

Steve said...

A reasonable person would think that a spider (most likely venomous to it victims) would not need to look like anything other than what it is.

Daniel Spurgeon said...

And a reasonable person wouldn't step on an insect that they knew to be a stinging insect. IE- if you knew this was a spider- you wouldn't hesitate to step on it- but if you thought it was a Velvet Ant- you might not try to squish it with your bare foot or your hand.

Thanks for your comment!

KeithB said...

But a more reasonable person would use a thick shoe... but an even more reasonable person would just leave all of nature alone, unless their family were in immediate harm.

Aditya Kamath said...

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Duane Goins said...

Great post I found one in the back yard the other day and have been trying to identify it since. I finally googled 'velvet ant mimic spider' and here we are. Thanks so much.

Anonymous said...

Very cool spider!
But who decided the cow killer is mimicking an ant? Its only the female that is wingless, with no hopes of fooling anyone.

TribalFunkGirl said...

Yeah...this spider's bite HURTS. I was bitten on the forehead and within a few minutes, my forehead was burning. Within 30 minutes, all the pores on my entire head were tingling and I had a headache.

TribalFunkGirl said...

Yeah...this spider's bite HURTS. I was bitten on the forehead and within a few minutes, my forehead was burning. Within 30 minutes, all the pores on my entire head were tingling and I had a headache.