Spiders that live with ants?

As a ridiculously early spring was establishing itself here in Lawrence, Kansas, I noticed a Formica colony reopening its nest in front of my door. I searched around the house for stones and the sort, and came up with a couple bricks and a large rock which I then used to cover up the newly opened nest entrance. Soon the ants reopened the nest underneath the bricks and rock. Now lifting these nest entrance covers reveals a large area of nest – this is a commonly employed technique when collecting for myrmecophiles.

A myrmecophilous linyphiid spider sucking a collembolan dry.

To my surprise, for several weeks now, I have been consistantly picking up this species of what I think is a spider in the family Linyphiidae. My series consists mostly of females, but also includes males and juveniles. When threatened, some of them have been observed to run into the nest, and as you can see from this picture, they appear to at least partially feed on the ant-symbiotic collembolan Cyphodeirus albinus. The collecting has slowed down a little as of late, but I hope to get a nice series that lends weight towards a myrmecophilous life style and aids in identification down the road.

Anyone know of people that might have the expertise toidentify this spider?


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