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Posts Tagged ‘jumping spider’

I always feel like I am being hypnotized when I stare into the giant center eyes of a jumping spider. Resistance is futile when I try to look away—I am irresistibly drawn back to those mesmerizing eyes.

I spotted this really cool-looking Bronze Jumping Spider (Eris militaris) on Tuesday when I was photowalking at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge with my friend Walter Sanford. I was thrilled to spot this little spider perched atop of some waist-high vegetation. I had to move in close, though, to be sure that this was in fact a jumping spider, because the bodies of Bronze Jumping Spiders are only a bit over a quarter of inch (6-8 mm) in length.

The little spider was not jumping, but it was moving around a lot, which made it quite a challenge to photograph at such close range. However, that meant that I was able to get shots from multiple angles without having to change my shooting position, as you can see in the photos below.

I often encourage readers to double-click on the images to see the details of the subject and think that it is especially beneficial to do so with these images. You will be able to see the fascinating arrangement of the spider’s eyes—I think there are eight eyes—and the reflection of the sky and the landscape in the large front eyes.

My favorite photo is undoubtedly the first one. I love the direct view into the eyes of the jumping spider and its combative pose that reminds me of a sumo wrestler at the start of a match. Was the spider challenging me?

 

Bronze Jumping Spider

Bronze Jumping Spider

Bronze Jumping Spider

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I know that spring has truly arrived when I start to walk around with a macro lens on my camera. I captured this shot of a Bold Jumping Spider (Phidippus audax) on the boardwalk yesterday at Huntley Meadows Park.

As I was walking into the park, a departing fellow photographer alerted me to the presence of the spiders, so I changed lenses in the hope that I would see one. Most of the winter months I have been using my Tamron 150-600mm lens to shoot birds and other wildlife, but I had my Tamron 180mm macro lens with me. It’s amazing how my field of vision changes with the shift in lenses. With the long lens, I am used to looking up and out, in part because it has a minimum focus distance of 8.9 feet (1.7 meters). With the macro lens, I am am scanning a much smaller area, primarily near my feet and just beyond.

Eventually I located a jumping spider. It seemed to be spending most of its time in the cracks between the synthetic boards of the boardwalk, but occasionally would venture out. Despite its name, the Bold Jumping Spider seemed to be pretty timid. In fact, I never did see it jump—it seemed content to crawl slowly.

The coolest thing about jumping spiders, of course, is their eyes. I am absolutely mesmerized by their multiple eyes and I was really happy that I was able to capture some reflections in the eyes. The reflections are most noticeable in the head-on shot, but they are also visible in the action shot. It’s a fun challenge to try to capture action when this close to a subject, but somehow I managed, though the higher shutter speed needed when shooting handheld meant that that my depth of field was pretty limited.

Bold Jumping Spider

Bold Jumping Spider

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This past Friday I spotted one of my favorite spiders, the Bold Jumping Spider (Phidippus audax), in the reeds adjacent to the boardwalk at Huntley Meadows Park. The spider was pretty active and jumped a couple of times, but I managed to get a shot that highlights its multiple eyes and colorful “fangs.”

“Here’s looking at you, kid.”

 

Bold Jumping Spider

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As a follow-up to last week’s preview, here is the complete story of my recent encounter with a Bold Jumping Spider (Phidippus audax) and a female Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly (Erythemis simplicicollis). The photos are a bit graphic, particularly for those of us who like dragonflies, but they illustrate the reality of nature that even super predators like dragonflies can easily become prey.

dragon1A_spider_blogAs I was walking at my local marshland park, I spotted a bright green dragonfly perched on the boardwalk and suspected immediately that it was a female Eastern Pondhawk. I moved in slowly to get a shot and was a bit surprised when the dragonfly did not take off when I got close. This is the initial view I had of the dragonfly.

dragon3_spider_blogI looked closely at the dragonfly and noticed that it was lying on its side and appeared to be dead. Wondering what might have caused its demise, I picked up the dragonfly’s body to do some amateur forensic analysis. (I obviously watched to many televisions shows about crime scene investigations.) As I lifted the body toward my eyes, I was shocked to find that a fuzzy black spider was still attached to it. Apparently the spider had been hiding in the gap between the boards as it feasted on the dragonfly.

Somewhat in shock, I dropped the dragonfly back onto the boardwalk and the fall caused the spider to be separated from its prey. Undeterred, it quickly set off to recapture the dragonfly.

dragon4_spider_blogThe spider grabbed the dragonfly in a headlock and began to drag it back toward the gap between the synthetic boards of the boardwalk. It seemed totally oblivious to my presence.dragon6_spider_blog

When it reached the gap, the spider paused for a few seconds, as though considering possibility of dragging the body through the gap.

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The spider decided to give it a try and did its best to pull the body in, starting with the head.

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Despite the spider’s best efforts, however, the dragonfly’s body was simply too big.

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As I left the scene, the spider had again settled down out of sight below the surface of the boardwalk, happily enjoying its meal and presumably hoping that it would not be disturbed again.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How does a jumping spider, a spider that does not build a web, manage to capture a dragonfly? I don’t know how this Bold Jumping Spider (Phidippus audax) snagged an Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly (Erythemis simplicicollis), but I came upon the two of them after the capture had been completed and managed to snap a series of photographs of the action.

I am still working on the images and plan to do a longer posting, but wanted to give you a sneak preview.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Sometimes you don’t have to travel far to get good nature photos. I noticed this colorful little jumping spider on my car yesterday when I was loading my camera gear, getting ready to go out shooting. spider4_car_blog

It was a fun challenge trying to get shots of the spider as it moved to various parts of the trim surrounding the windshield, many of which were reflective. I wasn’t sure how long the spider would hang around, so I didn’t set up my tripod and I think it would have been pretty awkward to do so.

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I am hoping that nobody snapped pictures of me as I sprawled my body across the hood of the car, trying to find a way to brace my body and get a decent shooting position. My Tamron 180mm macro lens lets me get in close, but it does not have image stabilization.

spider3_car_blogOne of the first things that I noticed when I reviewed my images was that my car is dirty. In this area, they use a lot of salt on the roads when it snows and I suspect that those little white spots are salt residue. I thought about removing them in post-processing, but decided that I like the more urban, gritty feel that they give the images (and besides, it would have been a lot of work to get rid of all of them).

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I am always thrilled when I find a jumping spider. There is something special about all of those eyes that simply fascinates me and I am particularly happy when I manage to get reflections in the eyes.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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There seemed to be spiders everywhere at the marsh today. When I arrived in the morning, there were webs all over the place, though not the kind that orbweavers make—plants were simply covered with web-like material. Later in the day I saw all kinds of spiders scurrying along the boardwalk and even flying through the air in a process known as ballooning.

I saw a lot of one of my favorite type of spiders, the jumping spider. I am still downloading my images from today, but here is an advance preview, an image of a jumping spider that had crawled onto part of the railing of the boardwalk. I love the details of the spider, especially the eyes, and even the peeling paint of the railing.

spider_jump1_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Earlier this week I came across this little Jumping spider, patiently waiting for a prey to come by.  I never fail to be amazed by those eyes that seemed to be staring right at me.

Transfixed, I can’t take my eyes off of you, tiny spider, and your eyes seem to follow me. I don’t want to seem paranoid, but when I am with you, I always feel like somebody is watching me.

Somehow I thought I heard the spider humming, “I only have eyes for you,” but it was just my imagination, running away with me.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I have encountered some cool-looking spiders in the past, but I think that this Bold Jumping spider (Phidippus audax) just leaped to number one on my personal list.

I was checking out my neighbor’s garden (fellow blogger and photographer Cindy Dyer) this past weekend, when I saw a little movement among the flowers. The first thing that i noticed was the fuzzy body and I suspected that I had a jumping spider in front of me. It crawled all around a couple of different plants and most of the time it had its back to be. I tried to be patient as I waited for it to turn toward me, so that I could get a shot of its amazing eyes.

It is equally remarkable that the Bold (also known as Daring) Jumping spider has iridescent blue-green mouth parts that are technically known as chelicerae. At first, I thought the spider was eating something brightly colored that really made it stand out—you can’t really camouflage yourself when you have a color that distinctive.

This is the third species of jumping spider that I have now seen in this one little garden. I am not sure what attracts the spiders to it, but the garden has an equal attraction for me.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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As I was checking out the flowers in my neighbors’ garden yesterday afternoon, I came across this little spider, sitting on top of a flower. There was no web anywhere in the vicinity, so I suspected that I might have a jumping spider.

Last month, I encountered a tiny, fuzzy spider that turned out to me a jumping spider, so I am a little more attuned to looking for them now. This one is definitely not the same kind, though, with completely different colors and markings. You can compare the two by checking out the photos in my previous posting.you

When I first saw the spider, it had just captured some kind of insect as you can see in the second photo. It then moved under the shade of a petal of the flower to enjoy its freshly caught dinner. I showed this moment in the first and third shots. The first one was taken a little closer and shows a lot of detail, but I really like the context that the third one provides and it is probably my favorite one. The final shot gives you an overall view of the spider.

I love the color and pattern of the spider and was happy that I was able to capture some of the details. The spider was not very big and I had trouble placing my tripod on the uneven ground to get a sharp shot. I am really happy with the results, however, and will definitely keep looking for these spiders with eyes that I find to be simply irresistible.

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Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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