The eye is the jewel of the body.
~Henry David Thoreau
I hope you are enjoying Melissa’s wildflower observations. She will have more in coming days. But this morning I wanted to share something I found a few days ago and finally took the time to go photograph yesterday afternoon. We have a nest box out behind our fence in an open spot in the woods. Over the years it has had chickadees and wasps using it. I was walking by it a few days ago and opened it up to see if there was any nesting activity as yet. I pulled the nest cup out and it contained an old flattened chickadee nest (moss and hair on top). As I started to put the cup back in, I noticed movement in the back of the box – a huge jumping spider, probably the largest jumper I had ever seen. I made a mental note to come back with a camera. Well, it took two days for me to get back there and I assumed the spider might be gone, but when I opened it up…
…she was still there! She (and I am guessing she based on her size, females are larger than males) had constructed a loose silk sac in one corner and was peaking out. I wanted to get a better image but I didn’t want to lose in her the leaf debris, so I had brought a large piece of white mat board to photograph her on. But, I had to gently coax her out first, which was not easy. She really did not want to leave that box. She finally climbed onto the stick I was using to gently herd her and I brought her out. Of course, being what she is, she then jumped and I was able to catch her in my other hand.
She was a beauty, over a half an inch in length, bold markings on her abdomen, and the usual incredible jumping spider eyes. I lowered her onto the mat board, expecting her to dash off, but she just sat there and oriented toward me as I got down on the ground for a few shots.
She turned out to be en excellent model, allowing me to take several images while just moving slightly from time to time as I moved around her.
After a few minutes, I raised the mat board up to the entrance of the bird house, opened the door and gently blew on her. She took the hint and walked over and climbed back into the box. Back at my house, I picked up my copy of Spiders of the Carolinas, by L.L. Gaddy, and thumbed through the jumping spider section. It looks as though she is a Canopy Jumper, Phidippus otiosus. The large size and distinctive V-shaped pattern on the abdomen are diagnostic. This is a fairly common species in woodlands, so I am surprised I have never seen one (at least not one this large). I’ll be sure to check on her again, although, while I was trying to get her out of the box, a large queen bumblebee entered. I think she may be building a nest in the nest cup full of moss and hair. That may complicate my visits in the future.
Once again, there is so much beauty just outside our door.