Because Ontario is harsh, and the invertebrates are quickly going to ground, I decided to do two days of outings this weekend! In addition to our trip to Leslie Spit on Saturday, I went out alone to High Park on Sunday to see what I could find.
Look at this beautiful Platycryptus californicus jumping spider!! She is so nice and plump! She was not always this way. When my labmate Nathan found her she was emaciated and dirty and living on the lab wall. So we fed her some blowflies!
Anyway, today we started using a really nice high speed camera (for secret science stuff), and I needed to get the hang of working with this beastly machine. I decided a good subject would be this jumper jumping on a calliphorid fly. The videos are below. Please start the video and then immediately click the HD option and view fullscreen, as the default is kind of ugly.
So these videos are not the best in the world, as there is an annoying slowed down flickering from the incandescent light we were using (60 Hz!), but they are pretty cool anyhow. Hopefully I will do better when we get a better light source!
BTW, in both of these instances, the fly escaped. I am not even sure if the spider wanted to catch the fly, as she was already a bit stuffed. I will have to try this again with a hungrier jumper.
I found this jumping spider yesterday on the wall of the Insectary Annex at SFU. From browsing on Bugguide, I think it is a male Evarcha, but I am not sure which species. Anyway, since the last shots of jumpers on white were well-received, I thought I would share these as well. I hope you enjoy hem!
I found this beautiful gravid female Phidippus johnsoni hanging motionless, upside-down from a grass stem this morning. She had all the hallmarks of envenomation by a spider wasp (Pompilidae). She was unresponsive, had extremely limited movement upon prodding, and was basically dead to the world. Being such a large animal, it is possible the wasp was unable to drag the spider to her burrow, or perhaps I interrupted while the female wasp was scouting the terrain ahead. Anyway, I took some photos with this suddenly very easy to work with subject, and then returned her to her stem of grass. Perhaps the wasp will retrieve it, and if not it will make a good meal for someone!
This week’s Cheapskate Tuesday I introduce plans and preliminary work on prototypes of a fun new tool that I hope will enable photographers to achieve better and more consistent shots of the macro shooter’s best friend: Cute jumping spiders gazing into the camera lens!
One of the challenges of jumper photography is to get opportunities of getting those head-on, deep-staring shots that make folks swoon for the sheer cuteness. Although jumping spiders will sometimes fixate on the lens, often they think there is something better to look at just out of frame. Stupid jumpers!
The rationale for the Salticid Startler is that possibly, when faced with an accurately painted model of a jumper with nice shiny chelicerae and bright shiny eyes, a jumper will have no choice but to stare into the lens.
The scientific rationale is that Salticids (jumping spiders) are highly visually oriented creatures, that can recognize other spiders and respond to visual cues for courtship and combat. With this in mind, I am hoping that my model, affixed in front of and below the lens will hold their attention and allow for better and longer photo opportunities.
To make my prototypes, I am using Sculpey, a type of polymer clay that can be baked into nice plasticky hardness. For five rather over sized models I have used about 1/4 a block (about $1.25 worth).
I will not bore you with details of construction, because that will not help anyway…This stuff is tough to work with if you have large hands! Practice with it and hopefully you can achieve better details than I have!
I will make nice beady, shiny eyes of painted epoxy, and use acrylic paints for the body. I am thinking a nice green metallic nail polish will make a nice finish for the chelicerae of a model for Phidippus johnsoni. You can substitute other colours for whatever species you are targeting.
You will note that the prototypes are way too big…This may be a problem, but alternatively, it may act as a supernormal stimulus, which will increase their effectiveness. I plan on having someone with more nimble fingers make some more life sized ones…
These are my thoughts for the Salticid Startler… I don’t have the talent or patience of Thomas Shahan (a god in jumper photography), so I am thinking these might be a lifesaver on my rare jumping spider outings…If any experts would like to offer suggestions, or just shoot the idea down outright, I am all