This page was born 12/18/2003.  Rickubis designed it.  (such as it is.) Last update: 05/17/2012
Images and contents on this page copyright 2002- 2012 Richard M. Dashnau

Here are some of my other Brazos Bend pages:
  Spiders page 1
  Spiders page 2 (Nephila clavipes) 
  Spiders page 3
  Spiders page 5 (Orb Weavers)
  Spiders Page 6(fishing spiders)
  Spiders Page 7(spitting spiders)

Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park Introduction                 Critters at Brazos Bend State Park Page 1
Snakes-nonvenomous 1-------------------------------------------     Critters at Brazos Bend State Park Page 3
Snakes-nonvenomous 2-------------------------------------------------Insects, non-toxic
Snakes-nonvenomous 3------------------------------------------------Spiders
Birds-Waders----Birds-Raptors---------------------------------    Lizards!--Turtles!

This is my fourth page of information I've found about spiders. Most of these pictures were taken at Brazos Bend State Park. I hope that, like me, the next time you see a spider (and they are almost everywhere), you'll take a second to admire their form and function.  On this page, we have the jumping spiders, or Salticidae.

October 03, 2004 Finally, I was standing on one of the foot bridges, and watching a female alligator and her young; when I caught a movement in my lower field of vision.
I looked down and saw this spider (see JUMPING SPIDER, above) on the rail. I was able to get some good shots with the "supermacro" setting on my camera, but I had to move the camera close to the spider to do this.
As I was trying to photograph it, the spider decided to jump ONTO my camera.  Well, that wasn't going to work, so I let it jump onto my hand, where I took a few more pictures as it crawled on my thumb (see RICK THUMBING A RIDE, above). Note those two large eyes in front, with two smaller eyes alongside. Also, that clinging ability, due to the scopulae, is evident as it clings to my thumb.
It jumped off, catching itself by the typical "safety line" (a friend of mine likes to call it a "butt tether"), and it returned to the rail (see GET THAT CAMERA OUT, above). I wanted to try to get more pictures of the safety line in action, but a park visitor came by to ask me about a large alligator. So, I left.

September 09, 2004 The image below (ANY KEY?) shows that one is usually not very far from some species of spider. I was at work, in my office, busily composing flowcharts, when I saw a furtive movement out of the corner of my eye. When I looked, I noticed a small spider moving around my assorted papers and hardware, hunting.  I turned to get my camera (I usually have mine near me), and when I turned back, the spider had gone. I'd seen it, or one like it, elsewhere in my office, and just sent good thoughts towards it.

                                                                    ANY KEY?
At around 10:00, I reached for my mug of coffee...which was actually pretty cold by then (fortunately). When I looked down into the mug, I saw a spider half-submerged in the coffee. OH, NO! Grabbing a fork, I gently fished the spider out, and set it on my desk. After a few seconds, it started crawling around. This time, I was able to get my camera, and that's how these pictures came to be.
This is a member of the Jumping Spider family (Salticidae), and might be a Plexippus paykulli, judging by the white stripes. (I've got a few more pictures--and video clips--of jumping spiders on my jumping spider page.) Take a closer look at the RICKUBISCAM and you might notice a blue "thread" coming of the end of its abdomen (opisthosoma).  This is a web coming from its spinnarets. Jumping Spiders usually attach a "safety tether" as they move about, in preperation for jumping. If they miss a target, or jump off an edge, they can use the tether to stop their fall and climb back onto a surface.  The two pictures below show this tether closer (KEYBOARD CLOSER; REAL CLOSE,below).

    THE KEYBOARD CLOSER     THE KEYBOARD REAL CLOSE               ON THE PEN                           ON THE EDGE                   ON THE EDGE CLOSER
I'm not sure what to make of the reddish patch on the tip of the abdomen. The spider moved to the pen (see ON THE PEN, above), and jumped off to the side, and then onto my keyboard housing.  (see ON THE EDGE, and ON THE EDGE CLOSER, above). Note those two large frontal eyes, also, that's a quarter in the picture over the spider.
        UNDERNEATH                        ON RICK'S FINGERTIP                 LATERAL EYES                       ON RICK'S CUTICLE            FACE-ON RICK'S FINGER

The spider got a little nervous when I was taking pictures, and walked under the top of the case (see UNDERNEATH, above). This illustrates something else that spiders can do; which is cling to smooth surfaces. The end of certain spider's legs (the tarsus) has, besides claws, very tiny hairs called "scopulae".  Each of these hairs is split, in turn, into hundreds of finer hairs. For example, in Biology of Spiders by Rainer F.Foelix, it says that a crab spider with 30 "scopular hairs" on each foot can have each of those hairs split into 500 to 1000 end feet. That makes a total of about 30 x 750 = 22,500 for ONE foot! 8 feet with this number of microhairs would be 8 x 22,500 = 180,000 contact points! Research shows that each of these very small hairs will adhere to a surface through molecular attraction (they are small enough for this kind of effect to take place); and the combined action of these thousands of hairs can support the weight of the spider. Different species of spiders have different numbers of scopulae. Those spiders that actively hunt (such as Jumping Spiders) have greater numbers of these, allowing them to pursue prey (or escape from being prey) over almost any surface, in any direction. For a recent article on these scopulae, look at  The Institute of Physics page. It's got great (but huge--over 1mb) pictures of the hairs.
Finally, I enticed the spider to crawl onto my finger for some better closeups, but with limited success because it kept moving (see above, ON RICK'S FINGERTIP). Looking closer, you may notice how the flash has caused highlight to glint on two (or four) spots on the lateral edge of the spiders carapace. These are four eyes (two pairs), which--with the 4 frontal eyes (see FACE-ON RICK'S FINGER)--make up the 8 eyes on this species. the last image below is from a short clip of the spider moving up my finger.  Finally, the spider went on about its business, and I went back to work.  Coffee break was over.

                                                 SHORT CLIP ON MY FINGER 409KB

November 29, 2003  It was a beautiful day. I sat down on the grass to be near Anubis. I could see, in among the short blades, the movements of small spiders. As I looked around, I spotted a small spider catching some sun on a leaf. So, I took some pictures, and finally slid a quarter next to the spider and took a few more. As you can see in the picture below (NO SMALL CHANGE), it posed nicely with the quarter.
The picture above (LOOK AT THOSE EYES) is cropped from one of the other pictures. The four eyes in front, with the two really big center pair (as well as two more sets on the sides of the cephalothorax) help identify this as one of the many species of "jumping spiders". Although I can't guess which spider the brown one is, I can be pretty sure about the Daring Jumping Spider; Phidippus audax (see DARING JUMPER, above.).  I took the pictures the Daring Jumping Spider in September of 2002.  Note the large eyes also in front on this spider. Also, those iridescent "fangs", or chelicerae, are another identification key for this spider.  The next image (DARING JUMPER EXPLORES, above) is a frame from a short video clip (flv video 462kb) of the same spider.  Watch as it investigates the edges of the park bench. This clip shows the spider at a more common viewing distance than the macro shots above.
I could watch jumping spiders for hours; they look so aware--and when they pounce on something...WOW! The next picture (AUDAX FROM ABOVE, above) shows the same spider from the top.
Jumping spiders are classified in the family Salticidae. Many of these are hard to tell apart, and I sure can't tell exactly which species this one is.  Spiders as a whole are in the order Aranae. This is split into two suborders; Mygalamorphae and Araneomorphae (the Foelix book lists a another order before these two, Mesothelae.). The first group is generally made up of "primitive" spiders, and in Texas, tarantulas are the most common of this type.  Most of our spiders belong to the second group, though,  and this group is further divided into families. These divisions are made by web type, or hunting behavior (for instance the Salticidae, which are the jumpers), or certain other characteristics.
Jumping spiders don't make webs to snare prey, although they do set down a "safety line" before they leap (here's a clip 365kb , also look at the Spiders 1 page).  According to A Field Guide to Spiders and Scorpions in Texas by John A. Jackman; they can leap many times their own body length, and the safety line can be used to recover in case they miss their target. Also, while they are moving around many of these jumpers constantly tap where they're walking with their pedipalps, possibly sensing chemical traces of prey.  Another interesting observation, from Biology of Spiders by Rainer F. Foelix; is that--depending on the species--jumping spiders jump by pushing off with either their last (4th) pair of legs, the 3rd pair, or a combination of the 3rd and 4th pair. This makes sense, considering that they usually use the front pair (1st) of legs to help snare their prey.  Also Jumping Spiders are generally credited with having the best eyesight of all the spiders. Since they can see further than most spiders (some orbweavers are almost blind), the react to movement, and move towards it, to investigate it. This could be why some of them (like the Daring Jumper) cause some people to become unnerved. The spiders seem unafraid, and, in fact, seem to be sizing us up rather than running away at our approach. This kind of behavior from a creature about the size of a quarter ( see the image below, DARING JUMPER AND QUARTER) is usually unexpected. (The image below is actually among the first I took of this spider. I had it on a table inside trying to photograph it before I released it outside on one of the park benches and took more pictures.)The spider in the video clip leaping onto the "lovebugs" is the same type as in this image(see WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT, below). This spider was about a half-inch long, standing on a wall, and as I leaned forward with the camera, about 12 inches away, the spider looked up at me, as if daring me to try something. A closeup of the face (WHAT BIG EYES, below) shows again the eye arrangement which these spiders possess.  Another version of this picture has appeared earlier above, since I photographed it in Sept. of 2002. I've guessed that this one is a Plexippus paykulli, but it's only a guess.

                  DARING JUMPER AND QUARTER                                MY GOSH, IT'S FULL OF STRANDS!                              WHAT ARE *YOU* LOOKING AT?                               WHAT BIG EYES YOU HAVE
As I was looking through the grass, I could see a number of webs glinting in the sunlight. Seeing those made me think of another time (last January), when I saw the yard covered by strands of silk (see MY GOSH, above, or the bottom of my Critters webpage). Could all of that have been caused by spiders in the grass? If so....what a mass of spiders, and what a huge number of small creatures must have been eaten!

September 08, 2002 Inhabitants of Texas are familiar with "love bugs", those black insects that--to quote an old airlines ad--"fly united". The scientific name for them is plecia nearctica Hardy, and they are mainly annoying. The bodies of these insects are acidic. Clouds of these were flying around my friend's house. I decided to take my camera and look around the house for some spiders, which I'd seen before. I wasn't disappointed. There were quite a few of them foraging. I spent some time watching their antics.  I noticed two jumping spiders about 4 feet apart that were attacking the love bugs (yay!).
-          --
                                  JUMPING SPIDER                                              HEY!  GET A ROOM!
The one on the left seemed to be catching and eating them, while the one on the right was catching them and "spitting them out". I got a pretty good macro shot of one of them (see JUMPING SPIDER, above).  Note the huge center pair of eyes. See how he seems to be looking up at me, and daring me to try something? They're pretty feisty.  I was able to get a short clip of one spider making a successful attack and then dropping its prey (the "spitting it out" spider) . HEY, GET A ROOM (above) is from this clip. To see the clip, click here. (flv video 365 kb).

If you'd like to know more about the park follow these links:

Brazos Bend State Park   The main page.

Brazos Bend State Park Volunteer's Page  The volunteer's main page.

Click on this image   to see a flv video movie (942kb) of a series of 9  11 x 14 posters I'm working on.

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           Go back to the RICKUBISCAM page.
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