Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Red-backed Jumping Spider Discovery

My six-year-old son called me today to come and see a really neat spider. I was surprised that it is one I have never seen before (and I've discovered a lot of creatures in my life!). So I encouraged him to scoop it into his "pooter" jar until we could identify it.

It was not hard to identify. It turns out to be a Phidippus johnsoni, also known as a red-backed jumping spider. Pretty neat. All black and hairy like a miniature tarantula, with the back of his abdomen completely red. Looks poisonous, but apparently is not, it just inflicts a very painful bite, which may hurt for days. Ha ha. Handle with care.

It turns out that ours is a male, the female would have a black stripe down the back of the red abdomen.

I don't think my camera will take a picture which will do it justice, and I'm not ready to let it out to try, so here is a photo "borrowed" from a page (just in case the page disappears) which has some really good photos of both a male and female:
Kinda spooky, she looks like she's looking at your right shoulder, considering whether she should jump up, doesn't it?

And here is the original Phidippus johnsoni page which helped me positively ID this little guy - a page well worth visiting - just not before heading to bed.


Owin & Irena said...

you have a lovely garden, creepy spiders notwithstanding.

Garden Lily said...

Imagination is a powerful thing... When I let him out into the grass in our upper yard last night (in the light of our halogen floodlight), I had to shake the jar a bit to get him to drop out. It was dark, so I looked but didn't see where he fell. So all the way while walking back inside, I kept feeling something tickling my foot or leg. Ick!

Stef said...

I have a question... my son found a group (TON OF THEM) of little TINY black spiders with BRIGHT red bellys... are they black widows? The belly doesnt look black with red in the middle... it is ALL BRIGHT red... any thoughts? I stumbled onto your web page here when I was searching for what the spider might be.


Garden Lily said...

Stef - You got me curious... If this photo is actually of black widow spider babies, then the bellies are quite red, not just a small red hourglass on black, as the adults may have: Black widow spider babies. Do these look like what you saw?

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