Sunday, July 10, 2011

Jumping Spider: Lunch

Sweetie's camera, a Canon Powershot A2200, is great for macros.  Son #2 had it out in the yard on Saturday morning and found this:
Phidippus Mystaceus, snarfing an earwig

You really need to click the image and zoom in for the full effect.  You think this little guy is cute now, wait until he fills the entire screen.

Jumping spiders have a few interesting qualities that make them more engaging than other spiders.  First of all, they're hunters.  They don't spin a web and wait for something to blunder along - usually me, on my way to the car.  They go out in search of their food, and get it.  So you never see one just sitting around.  If he's sitting, he's thinking about where he's going next.

And their eyes, their many many eyes, are more aware of you than the myopic little specks on the webspinners.  The jumper's eyes are big and almost personable.  Move around close to him even up to several body lengths away, rather (his body lengths, not yours) and he watches you.  He watches you, and you can see that he's watching.  His body moves up and down, tracking things that are close enough to be worth noticing.  If the light is right and your eyes are good enough, you can see tiny flickers of light coming from the jumper's eyes.  That's not a flicker of light like you might think, it's a reflection from inside the spider's eyes.  The eyes are so big in relation to the rest of the head that the lenses are completely fixed, but the spider can steer the retinas from inside to achieve better focus and keep things in the narrow field of view.  He really can look around and watch what he finds interesting.

This one is sitting on a crank wheel that's an inch thick.  So he's maybe a quarter-inch long.

Here's that first one again, enjoying his meal

Jumpers comprise the largest portion of the spider family, with over 500 different species.  They're found pretty much everywhere except Antarctica, even on the slopes of Everest.

Okay, Sweetie's taking her camera battery out of the charger.  Looks like she's off to find more spiders.

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