In the world of ants, it doesn’t matter how formidable any one worker of a particular species is – if it is caught out by a group that is superior in numbers there can be only one outcome. Below is part of a series of photos of Podomyrma adelaidae workers butchering a Myrmecia desertorum worker they have caught and spread-eagle.
I had always thought of Bull ants (Myrmecia spp.) as the kings queens of the jungle undergrowth. They are highly aggressive ants, with extremely good vision, a pair of powerful mandibles and a potent sting at their disposal. It is hard to imagine any other predatory arthropod taking one on and coming away unscathed. So you can imagine my surprise when I happened across the scene below.
The culprit is a bark-dwelling thomisid in the genus Tharpyna. At one third the size of the M. desertorum worker it is a most impressive feat on the part of this spider. Some thomisids are known for their ability to capture prey much larger than themselves and this is a wonderful example of that in action.