Prey classification by an araneophagic ant-like jumping spider (Araneae: Salticidae)
What to attack is one of the most basic decisions predators must make, and these decisions are reliant upon the predator's sensory and cognitive capacity. Active choice of spiders as preferred prey, or araneophagy, has evolved in several distantly related spider families, including jumping spiders (Salticidae), but has never been demonstrated in ant-like jumping spiders. We used prey-choice tests with motionless lures to investigate prey-choice behaviour in Myrmarachne melanotarsa, an East African ant-like salticid that normally lives in aggregations and often associates with other spider species. We show that M. melanotarsa chooses spiders as prey in preference to insects and, furthermore, discriminates between different types of spiders. Myrmarachne melanotarsa's preferred prey were juvenile hersiliids and its second most preferred were other salticids. To date, all documented examples of araneophagic salticids have been from the basal subfamily Spartaeinae. Myrmarachne melanotarsa is the first non-spartaeine and also the first ant-like salticid for which araneophagy has been demonstrated. © 2009 The Zoological Society of London.