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!
Notice her shrunken abdomen. She is holding her legs clear of her prey while it succumbs to the venom.
Because we have fed her so well, she is now a much more attractive beast.
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.
This lovely jumping spider is a common sight on walls around the Vancouver area: meet Platycryptus californicus, a member of the Marpissinae subfamily of Salticidae. If you live in Eastern North America, another Platycryptus, P. undatus is also common.
At first glance, P. californicus seems a wee bit boring. They are overall grey and drab, and hang out on grey drab walls. When shot up close on white, however, these little salticids reveal their beauty. I found this one yesterday on a wall in my back yard, and a couple days ago one was in my living room. This is truly one jumper that has adapted well to the urban habitat.
The greyness and drabness help these little jumpers blend in to rocks and now concrete.
The drabness is not complete however, as there are rufous hairs scattered around, particularly near the eyes and on the sides of the abdomen. A bold white stripe is evident on the lower portion of the prosoma, just above the legs.
Unlike some other species, these jumpers seem to pause every once in a while, which makes photography easier. Check out those cute little eyelashes!
They seem to move their palps quite a bit (perhaps to cover their hideous fangs, like Dracula with his cape?)