I mentioned on Day 15 that I’d be surprising you with spiders, and today’s the day! Boo!
As a reminder: “I’ll paint what I see – what the flower is to me but I’ll paint it big and they will be surprised into taking time to look at it.” — Georgia O’Keeffe, 1939, in “About Myself” in a catalog for a New York Exhibition. It’s great that with photos (and painting) a small or obscure image can be enlarged so that it’s noticeable.
Crab spiders are little but mighty. And once you know what to look for, they’re fairly easy to spot, even though there are more than 200 species of them just in North America. They look like small crabs, unsurprisingly.
On the left is a photo of one near the center of this cosmos, and on the right the close-up view. Sometimes I don’t see these smol ones until I’m editing.
Here’s a goldenrod crab spider, on Joe Pye weed. Looks like it may have some prey there.
Another goldenrod crab spider, on spouse’s arm.
These crab spiders definitely have prey, quite sizable compared with their own bodies.
And if we’re going to show crab spiders, I gues we should look at a spider crab?
Jumping spiders, New Hampshire’s state spider, are super cute. And quick! The one on the bottom, attacking a fly, is probably the bold jumping spider (Phidippus audax), which you can tell by the iridescent green chelicerae (mouthparts, like jaws). The one in the top middle was seen in Florida, and it just looks like it, right? I think it’s a regal jumping spider, which aren’t venomous and bite only if tightly held, so I have nothing to fear from it. Apparently they are easily tamed.
Finally, orb weavers. They’re not usually small — well, the males are; these spiders often exhibit extreme sexual size dimorphism, in this case with the female being the larger, sometimes just a little larger to up to 12 times larger than the male — but even the females can be hard to notice. There are about 3,000 species around the world, and 180 or so in North America. I commonly see them on Jekyll Island, Georgia, sometimes right at eye level though usually a little higher — just high enough to brush a bicycle rider’s head. Gotta duck! Seriously, if a golden orb weaver (Argiope aurantia) blew into my face, you’d heard my dying scream. But they are amazing and beautiful. Herewith a selection of some of my favourites from southern climes as well as New England.
You’re probably thinking, Where can I get one? Really, they’re everywhere. You’re probably within several feet of one now. (Lots of online sources say this is a myth but Chris Buddle at Arthropod Ecology, and McGill University, reckons this is about true, with a few caveats.) So look around.
And for more spider information, to give you and your new buddy something to talk about, try these:
Arthropod Ecology: Arachnids (Chris Buttle)
Investigating Community Food Webs: The Ecological Importance of Spiders by Dustin Wilgers, Science Friday, 11 Nov. 2016 and The Marvelous, Misunderstood Lives Of Common Spiders: These eight-legged crawlers have an unnecessarily bad rap by Lauren J. Young, 25 Oct. 25. For grades 3-5 but interesting for all ages. In fact, there’s an Arachnology unit with lots of articles and projects.
Harvard study shows that jumping spiders can identify biological motion by Juan Siliezar, Harvard Gazette, 26 July 2021
How the Jumping Spider Sees Its Prey by James Gorman, NYT, 6 Nov. 2018
It’s daring, it’s jumping, and now it’s the NH state spider by Holly Ramer, AP, 11 June 2021.
In Your Face Spiders and Other Orb Weavers (lots of great photos), from Buckeye Yard & Garden Online, The Ohio State University.
Ohio’s Natural Enemies: Crab Spiders, Ohioline/Ohio State Univ. Extension, 19 Jan. 2016
Featured image: There’s a female and much smaller male golden orb weaver in the feature photo, taken on Jekyll Island, GA. See ’em?