Jumping Ant with Prey

by S Karthikeyan
S Karthikeyan

Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'

Jumping Ants have large eyes, long mandibles and an incredible ability to jump. They jump to escape and also to catch prey. Nature has many such marvels in store and all it takes is a keen eye and a hungry mind to witness actions like these.

I saw my first Jumping Ant (Harpegnathos saltator) on the outskirts of Bangalore and observed how it moves about. The ant jumped and lived up to its name!

Back in 2004 near Belgaum, as I photographed a jumping ant, it did something very interesting. I was peering through my view finder when suddenly the ant leapt and went out of my frame. The ant had actually jumped and caught a moth mid-air!

I saw it jump, but missed the actual catch. I was so taken aback by this act that I completely forgot about the camera hanging around my neck! Ever since, I have been wanting to see and if possible, photograph a Jumping Ant catch its prey mid-air.

More recently in 2014, I was at Nagarahole and was trying to photograph a tiny gecko. I noticed a blurred movement in my frame behind the gecko. I stopped shooting the gecko and looked at the ‘movement’. It turned out to be a Jumping Ant carrying a spider in its mandibles! It would have been interesting to observe what the ant did with the spider. However, I could not follow the ant as it moved through a tangle of vegetation, and I eventually lost it. The spider was limp in the mandibles of the ant. There was no way I could say if the spider was stung by the ant and paralyzed or if it was just the vice-like grip of the mandibles.

Again I had missed the action. Wonder how the ant caught the spider. Well, I guess it has to wait until another time and another occasion.

Jumping Ants have large eyes, long mandibles and an incredible ability to jump. They jump to escape and also to catch prey. Nature has many such marvels in store and all it takes is a keen eye and a hungry mind to witness actions like these.

About the author

S Karthikeyan
Karthikeyan is the chief naturalist of Jungle Lodges & Resorts based in Bangalore.


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