Certain Acacia trees are well known for having resident ants. Ants eat the distinctive leaflet tips known as Beltian bodies—nubbins of protein and fat—and they drink the nectar that oozes from special nectaries on the leaf petioles (i.e. “little stalk” between stem and leaf). Often cited as a textbook example of a “mutually beneficial partnership” (or symbiosis), the resident ants fiercely defend their home trees against caterpillars and other invaders that might chew on the tree
However, in Mexico, it seems the ants (Pseudomyrmex) are having to share their arboreal abode with a rival herbivore—namely, a spider.1 Bagheera kiplingi gets its name from a panther in a Rudyard Kipling story. Panthers are of course adept at leaping, and so is this spider—in fact a report in Science News says Bagheera kiplingi “belongs among the big-eyed, athletic predators in the family of jumping spiders”.2 Researchers have recently been surprised, however, to discover that a population of these spiders in Central America is “predominantly vegetarian”, dodging the ant guard patrols to forage on the fresh leaf tips, and to a lesser extent on petiolar nectar….
Continue Reading on creation.com