Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Spider sightings

We don't get to see a lot of spiders at the Nature Centre this time of year, since our native species have either laid eggs and died or found places to hide from winter by now. Today, though, we've had a visit from a Jumping Spider who seems to have hitched a ride up to Red Deer from California via some grapes.

After searching the internet, we think we may have identified the hitchhiker. Not too shabby, considering that there's not an arachnologist among us. It looks to be a member of the Phidippus genus; most likely Phidippus aurax, which is commonly known as the Daring (or Bold) Jumping Spider. The spider is widespread through North America and can often be identified by the three white spots on its abdomen. That stumped us for a little while since our spider very definitely has orange spots rather than white ones, but this photo on bugguide.net turned out to be a near-perfect match.

They say you learn something every day, and today I learned that the Daring Jumping Spider has a few colour variations.

I took some photos of our latest office pet (yep, we're going to try to keep her), but since they were taken through a bug box they're not terribly clear. If you look closely at the last one, though, you can see a hint of her iridescent green jaws (chelicerae).

These spiders will bite if provoked, but like most spiders in our area the bite doesn't usually cause anything worse than a bump or slight rash. A small price to pay for something that helps keep the garden pest population at bay.

1 comment:

Scott said...

My daughter and I have had a Bold Jumping Spider since this May. She laid her eggs a few days after we caught her. We eventually released dozens of spiderlings into our backyard while keeping Period, as my daughter named her for the spot on her abdomen. She got out of her container once and was lost in the house for a few days. Then she returned to the container, crawling around on the outside, apparently missing her steady supply of crickets. We rewarded her with a larger encloser--with a more secure top. Good luck with your spider. I've got some fabulous pictures of ours; right after she catches a cricket she's still enough to get a great closeup.