I haven’t captivated/delighted/enchanted/thrilled/terrified you with jumping spider photos recently! We haven’t seen many since New Zealand, but Borobudur turned out to have several. They were going about their business, but I managed to enlist a few for photoshoots.
And remember, spiders are friends, not foot-stomping material. They’ll thank you by eating all of those flies and mosquitos that *bug* you so much. (HAHAHA…I regret nothing.)
I found the most curious spider at Waipu Caves. It had the definite shape and movements of a jumping spider, from two large luminous eyes to bounding around while I tried to photograph it. But it also definitely had six legs.
I managed to lure the spider out into the sun, hoping to figure out where the two extra legs were. But even in the light, there were still only six legs – the two fuzzy things at the front are the pedipalps, part of the spider’s mouthparts.
Baffled by this mystery and enchanted by the brilliant peridot-green of the spider’s abdomen, I took a few more shots. We don’t have much in the way of internet access out here, so figuring out whether there is indeed a six-legged spider species in New Zealand will have to wait.
Update: I did some research and this isn’t a spiffy spider species that sports only six legs. It’s an unfortunate individual of the Tritegenus (insert joke about the name lacking originality here), probably Trite planiceps(although it looks closer to this unidentified Trite species). These spiders normally come with eight legs, but this individual had his/her front two leg torn off, likely from an encounter with a predator or in a territorial battle with another spider. You can even see the stump of one leg to the left of the chelicerae and pedipalps in photos 2 and 4 above. Ouch.
Thankfully, these spiders frequently lose their front limbs and carry on with their normal lives in terms of hunting and survival. But they do have some worse luck in fighting battles against other spiders and in mating – there’s a whole thesis on it here.
I really like spiders. They’re interesting animals, from their web-building to their role in eating what we humans generally consider pests (like mosquitoes). They exist nearly everywhere in the world, and there are tons of species, so there’s always something new to learn. But a lot of people don’t like spiders, and I understand that. But hear me out below.
Jumping spiders (salticids) are the adorable stars of the spider world. And while the words “jumping” and “spider” together might horrify you, it’s not as scary as you might think. Jumping spiders are small, nonaggressive, and none of them (as far as I know) are venomous enough to seriously hurt you. You can play with them, as they’re highly sensitive to motion and will react to you putting a finger (or stick, or leaf) near them by jumping on it or jumping away. And their huge eyes make them really cute. Seriously, they’re so cute that I’ve already helped one person conquer their fear of spiders through observing them. So if you’re currently not keen on spiders, jumping spiders might be your chance to see spiders in a new light.
And if you’re already an enthusiast of Salticidae, welcome! Hope you like the pictures, and if you’ve got any identification information please pass it along here or on Project Noah (a website dedicated to cataloging images of all life on Earth).
We didn’t encounter many jumping spiders on this side of the pass, although that might be the result of us hiking as quickly as possible and not taking many breaks. We did see this little guy at Parador Hornada Pata. He was stubborn and retreated before we could take any good photos:
After the Salkantay Pass
Our first jumping spider on the north side of the Salkantay Pass showed up on the trail after Wayramachay, probably at around 2,800 feet. This little lady was shy and trying to avoid the sun, so getting a good picture is hard:
We saw nearly half a dozen jumping spiders in the span of an hour at Winaypocco, in the valley of river Santa Teresa/Salkantay. All of these seem to be in the genus Frigga, which live throughout South America (and a bit of Central America). We managed to get good pictures of three of them:
Frigga spp. #1
Frigga spp. #2
Frigga spp. #3
These are the references I used to ID the above species: