The Bug Geek

Insects. Doing Science. Other awesome, geeky stuff.

Photo Friday: Jumping Spiders (Eris militaris)

A wonderful thing happened yesterday: my labmate and fellow PhD candidate, Raphael, brought some of his research subjects by our lab, which meant I had live critters to photograph in winter, yay! :D

Raph’s research focuses on behavioural syndromes in jumping spiders (Salticidae: Eris militaris). It’s hard not to anthropomorphize these little animals – their large eyes, colorful markings and complex body language make them wonderfully personable. They are, in fact, so darned adorable that I couldn’t get arachnophobe-ey around them even if I tried.

The large male was intense, bold and explorative – he was NOT a cooperative subject.  Also, he seemed more interested in showing off his impressive pedipalps than anything else:

Eris militaris male (2)

Eris militaris male

The female was considerably calmer.  And, even though the male is strikingly marked with dark brown and bright ivory bars, I found her more subtle markings more beautiful.

Eris militaris female

Eris militaris female

Eris militaris female (2)

Eris militaris female

Raph placed the male and female under separate petri dish lids, side by side. The female noticed the male. The busy male was too busy exploring to notice her…at least until the dishes were lifted. Then he launched into an impressive display of dance and posturing, tentatively approaching and touching the female – only to be rebuffed three times – until at last his efforts were rewarded with a receptive reply, and they coupled.

Spider sex (which I have never witnessed firsthand before) looks awfully complicated. Or uncomfortable. Or both.

Jumping spider sex - Eris militaris (1)

Jumping spider sex. Hmm. Well that's interesting, isn't it?

Jumping spider sex (2) - Eris militaris

Jumping spider sex - where the business is actually happening.

Spider sex - Eris militaris

Jumping spider sex - the female looking...rather squashed.

I’ve invited Raph to tell us more about his research, and possibly show some of the videos he’s taken of his spiders (including the hilarious mating ritual that took place between the two subjects in the photos here!), so expect a guest post in the near future!

16 responses to “Photo Friday: Jumping Spiders (Eris militaris)

  1. Adrian D. Thysse March 2, 2012 at 9:56 AM

    What a great sequence!

    AAAAAARgh, why can’t people bring me bugs in winter??? (kicks desk in frustration)

    Looking forward to the video,,,

    • TGIQ March 3, 2012 at 6:53 AM

      You need more nerd friends, maybe? ;)
      Raph says he has important things like research to do *pfft* but I’ll keep bugging him about it.

  2. eremophila March 2, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    Fantastic!!!! As a gardener and a photographer, I’ve been entranced by these creatures, naturally. Not much fore play – just eightball! Ha!

  3. Alex Webb March 2, 2012 at 10:33 PM

    That last photo is just great. Spider sex is WEIRD, and poses interesting questions about the evolution of indirect copulation. Keep these posts coming!

  4. dragonflywoman March 4, 2012 at 3:48 AM

    Wow! Love the photos Crystal! Are you still using the camera you brought to BugShot last year, or did you upgrade? A great post overall too.

  5. TGIQ March 4, 2012 at 7:38 AM

    I’ll be using the same old point-and-shoot until one of two things happen: 1) I win the lottery, or 2) I graduate (a new camera is to be my grad present to myself) :).

  6. Brigette March 4, 2012 at 8:38 AM

    LOVE the photos, especially the last one! Jumping spiders are great :)

  7. Leslie Brunetta March 4, 2012 at 7:47 PM

    Great photos! How spiders ever evolved this way of going about things is definitely one of those Big Questions. Thanks for the post.

    • TGIQ March 4, 2012 at 8:09 PM

      Hi Leslie,
      thanks for the kind words! I was very pleased with the photoshoot as well :) The whole arrangement is truly bizarre, isn’t it? There are quite a few animals that require the external transfer of sperm from male to female, so it must be useful somehow!

  8. Ted C. MacRae March 4, 2012 at 11:04 PM

    My gosh, Geek – what an espectacular series of photos!

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