Surely that’s a face that will find its way into even the most hardened arachnophobes heart? The owner of those big round eyes is a female Helpis minitabunda, the Australian Bronze Jumping Spider. Last week I mentioned that the jumping spiders (family Salticidae) where my absolute favourite group of spiders, but the photos I used in that post didn’t do much to show just how endearing these spiders can be (even when they are in the process of chomping down on a blowfly!)
Jumping spiders stand apart from most of their kin by being active during the daytime. Like the lynx spiders that have featured here before, they are active hunters which rely on good sight and surprise attacks to keep themselves fed. That lifestyle has led to features that make the jumping spiders so cute, huge forward facing eyes and a head that swivels around to follow you. Most spiders will react to an intrusion from some lumbering fool sticking a camera lens in their face by running away. Not jumping spiders, they’ll eye you up in much the same way they would a passing beetle:
I managed to take a few photos of jumping spiders while I had all that fancy camera gear to play with. These photos don’t do justice to the gear or their subjects, but here’s a closer look at a couple of tropical jumpers (probably a female and then a male from a Menemerus species):
If my hunch about those two photos representing one species is right, then I’ve shown you photos of two species here. Hardly a fair sampling of the 5 000 currently described species of jumping spiders (about as many species as all the mammals put together). Those two species are relatively drab, but jumpers come in some amazing colors. Thankfully, photographers with much more skill than I have recorded some of that diversity. Ted MacRae recently linked to Thomas Shaha’s focus stacked invertebrate photos which include some of the most amazing jumping spider photos I’ve ever seen and Ugly Overload wronged the group by including a montage of jumping spiders on their pages.
A wee update: Another local blogger has been talking about jumping spiders lately, Alan Macdougall had a Trite auricoma pay him a visit, check out his neat photos here.