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.