Creepy Crawlies with Christy 051817

Creepy Crawlies with Christy 051817

By Christy Pitto

For The Independent


This week we’ll revisit some common summertime spiders. Some folks aren’t fans of our 8-legged Oregonians, so let’s meet two common spiders that serve as Goodwill Ambassadors.

jumper crab collage sm sd

Jumping Spiders; Family Salticidae (pictured top – L: Female Johnson’s, R: Male Johnson’s). I call Jumpers “Dogs of the Arachnid World”. That’s the most accurate description I can think of. Jumpers are generally big-eyed, fuzzy/furry, quite curious and comical.

Spiders with personality? Jumpers are “thinky” spiders, always checking out their surroundings. When you’re lucky enough to observe them via macro you have a front row seat to their curiosity.

Many arthropods are hard to photograph because they are (justifiably) fleeing the “Clicky Thing” (camera).  Jumpers can pose the opposite problem, coming toward the Clicky Thing and often hop on the lens for a better look. Alternatively, Jumpers give the camera a thorough visual inspection (they have great eyesight), then ignore it, having deemed it “non-threatening”.  They are not short on chutzpa.

They don’t jump like grasshoppers, with “springy” legs. Jumpers jump by restricting blood to their legs, then sending it there in a “whoosh” causing them to straighten and the jumper to jump. They have a safety silk line, but take time to assess their surroundings and judge distance, etc. before leaping.

Not only are Jumpers adorable and clever, but are nifty pest controllers. They dine on everything from annoying aphids and minute bitey insects to house fly sized flies.

Our next Spider Ambassador: Crab Spider. Pictured are two species you can often find in flowers. L: Misumena vatia, Goldenrod Crab Spider R: Genus Mecaphesa.

While lacking the “Cute Factor” of Jumpers, Crabs are noteworthy for their innate ability to be living works of art. Those commonly found on flowers come in a pleasing palette of floral colors. Pinks, yellows, purples, blues and greens. To blend with their petalled hunting grounds, they usually arrange themselves in elegant poses. With this combination of grace and hue, they’re a photographer’s dream and so pretty even many arachnophobes can take an appreciative glance.