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Arachnids

Back at the end April I had a chance to escape from classes and get out into the field for a weekend of collecting and photography. The day was slightly cooler than anticipated but still productive; throughout the day I saw numerous Calosoma wilcoxi scuttling about. While smaller than its larger cousin C. scrutator, this species is still quite vividly colored – a striking combination of green, blue and some red edging.

The sheer number of beetle present was possibly the most surprising; I saw beetles running on the trunks of tress, on the road, and even, in copious amounts, in the leavings from a small mammal. This did make for many great, though at times frustrating, photographic opportunities.

Further information on Calosoma wilcoxi, C. scrutator, or on all of the species from Virginia.

And now for some details on photographing Lyssomanes viridis

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I’ve found  this species to be somewhat easier to photograph than the usual jumping spider – largely because of their habitat. Since this species is found on leaves – usually on the underside – individuals do not have many escape options available; when disturbed their typical response is to flee to the opposite side of the leaf.

If you take a slow and measured approach, these spiders tend to remain stationary long enough for some neat shots – though not infrequently individuals will  turn away from the camera; I tend to hold onto the leaf with one hand, makng it easy to adjust my position while not losing site of my subject. Finding a translucent green spider through the viewfinder at twice life size can be a little bit tricky…

Occationally I’ve had an individual jump onto the front of my lens, which results in a scramble to locate the uncooperative spider and often puts an end to any more photos.

An interesting facet of this species is that, due to their translucent body, the movement of the spider’s retina is visible as shown in this animation.

Given the size of this species – body length is a bit over a centimeter – I prefer to use Canon’s MP-E 1-5x Macro Lens; it works for a shot of the whole spider or an extreme closeup of the “face” such as this shot taken at 5:1.

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This very “toothy” fellow is a Magnolia Green Jumper – Lyssomanes viridis. This handsome individual is a male - as evidenced by the considerably lengthened chelicerae and enlarged pedipalps.

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Just for comparison, here is a female – notice the difference in the size of the chelicerae

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This species is fairly common here in central Virginia; I often find females prowling on the undersides of leaves, presumably in search of prey.  Males seem to be far harder to find – it seems like I’ve found 3-4 females on average for every male. But that could just be me…

commonly known as the Dimorphic Jumping Spider. The males of this species occur in two forms; the first resembles the female, a sort of salt and pepper mix with yellow and rust red markings.

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However, the second form is almost nothing like the former, instead with a black body and three distinct tufts of hair on its cephalothorax.

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For more information take a look at the species page on Bugguide.

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