If I had a pet jumping spider--which I don't--I'd name him "Jumping Jehosphaphat."
"The biblical king Jehoshaphat is the inspiration for the exclamation 'jumpin' Jehosaphat!' This alliterative idiom probably arose in the 19th century but was popularized by the cartoon character Yosemite Sam in the 20th century."--A Way With Words.
Don't know if any of the arachnologists attending the American Arachnological Society (AAS) meeting, June 26-30 at UC Davis, will say "Jumping Jehosphaphat." Probably not. (Maybe "If I say jump, you ask how high?")
However, when they kick off their conference with an open house, "Eight-Legged Encounters," at the Bohart Museum of Entomology from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, June 25, jumping spiders will be one of the species showcased. Some 20 tables of exhibits and activities will line the hall of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane. It's free, open to the public, and family friendly.
The Bohart Museum, directed by UC Davis distinguished professor Lynn Kimsey, is the home of a worldwide collection of eight million insect specimens. It also houses a live "petting zoo" (Madagascar hissing cockroaches, stick insects and tarantulas) and an insect-themed gift shop.
A powerhouse of the nation's arachnologists will participate at the open house, according to arachnologist Jason Bond, associate dean, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and the Evert and Marion Schlinger Endowed Chair in Insect Systematics, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. He's chairing the conference with Lisa Chamberland, postdoctoral research associate, Department of Entomology and Nematology, and Joel Ledford, assistant professor of teaching, Department of Plant Biology, College of Biological Sciences.
Professor Eileen Hebets of the School of Biological Sciences, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, is co-hosting the Bohart open house as part of a U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, “Eight-Legged Encounters” that she developed as an outreach project to connect arachnologists with communities, especially youth. She seeks to educate the public “about the wonders of biology and the possibility of scientific discovery using a charismatic and engaging group of animals--arachnids. Arachnids (spiders and their relatives) are ubiquitous, thriving in most habitable environments on our planet (including underwater),” as mentioned on her website.
Jumping spiders, which belong to the family Salticidae, are "a large diverse group of spiders of about 4,000 species worldwide, and 300 in the United States," according to a Bohart Museum fact sheet that Kimsey authored. "These spiders are relatively small, usually less than 1 cm long. They are often brightly colored with reds, whites and even metallic green, particularly their chelicerae (jaws). They are extraordinary jumpers, and are known to be able to jump distances more than 10 to 40 times their body length."
Fact is, jumping spiders don't weave webs to catch their prey. They lie in wait and then pounce. "Jumping spiders are carnivores and can be effective garden pest control agents," Kimsey says. "They eat insects and other spiders about their size or smaller. They do not spin webs for catching prey, but may use a silken thread as an anchor as they climb down a vertical surface. These spiders are generally harmless to humans. They can bite, but this normally only happens when the spider is being crushed or other similar situation where its threatened with damage. The bites range from asymptomatic to small, mosquito-bite-sized welts. They are not as severe as a bee sting."
We've seen jumping spiders grab honey bees, syrphid flies, butterflies and other unsuspecting critters.
I never once thought of naming a jumping spider, but if I did, "Jumping Jehosphaphat!" would do.
At the open house, plans call for “A Name-that-Spider-Species" contest, coordinated by postdoctoral fellow Lisa Chamberland and doctoral students Iris Bright and Emma Jochim of the Bond lab. “We'll have an exhibit at the event with details on the spider (a male spider from the genus Promyrmekiaphila),” Bond said. “We'd like to restrict naming suggestions to be youths attending the event, students 18 years and younger."
"Lisa, Iris, and Emma have a poster put together on it," Bond said. The prize? The honor of naming the species and acknowledgment in a scientific paper.
Let's see...How about an individual name for the spider? Warrior, Speedster, Von Trapp, Fang, Charlotte, Spidey, or Itsy Bitsy?
Nah. How about Jumping Jehoshaphat?
Who doesn't love jumping spiders?
They're adorable. No? Well, they are to arthropod enthusiasts, but not so much to their prey.
This one (probably a Phidippus audax, a Bold Jumper) was moving slowly and unobtrusively up a shadowed Vacaville stucco wall on the morning of Jan. 2.
It may have been hunting for prey or simply seeking some sun.
The jumping spider, family Salticidae, is a thing of beauty, but to some folks it's a thing of fright.
Did you catch science writer James Gorman's article on How the Jumping Spider Sees Its Prey in the Nov. 6, 2018 edition of The New York Times?
"If you love spiders, you will really love jumping spiders," Gordon began, humorously adding that "If you hate spiders, try reading this article on dandelions."
"O.K., if you're still here, jumping spiders are predators that stalk their prey and leap on them, like a cat. They are smart, agile and have terrific eyesight."
Gorman pointed out that "It has been clear for a long time that their vision is critical to the way they hunt, and to the accuracy of their leaps. But a lot has remained unknown about the way their eyes work together." He then detailed the newly published research on spider vision by Elizabeth Jakob of the University of Massachusetts and her colleagues.
"Jumping spiders have eight eyes," Gorman gently reminded his readers (who were probably already reading about dandelions). "Two big eyes, right in the center of what you might call the spider's forehead, are the principal ones, and they pick up detail and color. Of the other three pairs, a rear set looks backward, a middle set is as yet a bit of a mystery, and the foremost detect motion."
The spider we saw on the stucco wall certainly detected our motion.
Somewhat like the phrase attributed to Julius Cesar's "I came, I saw, I conquered," our spider "came, jumped and vanished."
And no, I'm not going to read that article on dandelions.
Gotta love those spiders.
We recently saw an adorable jumping spider (aren't all jumping spiders adorable?) huddled or cuddled (your preference) within a layer of yellow rose petals. It didn't look like a poster child for Halloween. It looked right at home.
It's still there.
In a March 2019 Bug Squad blog, we posted five good reasons to like spiders, compliments of Professor Jason Bond of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. He's the Evert and Marion Schlinger Endowed Chair in Insect Systematics in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and a newly selected co-editor-in-chief of the journal Insect Systematics and Diversity (ISD), published by the Entomological Society of America (ESA).
“Spiders have been around for 400 million years and are cunning, skillful predators," Professor Bond says. They are "an incredibly diverse group with more than 50,000 species described with probably another 200,000 remaining to yet be discovered."
The five good reasons to like spiders?
- Spiders consume 400-800 million tons of prey, mostly insects, each year. Humans consume somewhere around 400 million tons of meat and fish each year.
- Spider silk is one of the strongest naturally occurring materials. Spider silk is stronger than steel, stronger and more stretchy than Kevlar; a pencil thick strand of spider silk could be used to stop a Boeing 747 in flight.
- Some spiders are incredibly fast – able to run up to 70 body lengths per second (10X faster than Usain Bolt).
- Although nearly all 47,000-plus spider species have venom used to kill their insect prey, very few actually have venom that is harmful to humans.
- Some spiders are really good parents –wolf spider moms carry their young on their backs until they are ready to strike out on their own; female trapdoor spiders keep their broods safe inside their burrows often longer than one year, and some female jumping spiders even nurse their spiderlings with a protein rich substance comparable to milk.
When Professor Bond spoke at the Bohart Museum of Entomology open house, “Eight-Legged Wonders,” on March 9, 2019, showcasing spiders, he drew scores of questions. Following his talk, the visitors participated in interactive activities, including “How to Eat Like a Spider,” “How to Assemble an Arachnid,” "How to Catch a Moth," "Create a Chelicerate" and others. So educational and entertaining and let's hope another one will be on the calendar in the near future! The Bohart Museum, currently closed to the public due to COVID-19 precautions, is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus. It is the home of nearly 8 million insect specimens, and also a live "petting zoo" (think Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas) and an online insect-themed gift shop, stocked with t-shirts, hoodies, jewelry, posters, and collecting equipment.
Meanwhile, Herman or Hermanina, is basking in the sun, getting ready to substantiate Professor Bond's excellent description: "a cunning, skillful predator."
Suds for a bug! What could be better than that?
It's all part of Shapiro's scientific research to determine the bug's first flight of the year. The good professor, who launched the contest in 1972, maintains a research website at http://butterfly.ucdavis.edu/.
It's a little too early to start thinking about cabbage white butterflies, but it wasn't too early for a jumping spider.
For several weeks, we've been admiring a jumping spider hanging out on our Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia). Monarchs, Western tiger swallowtails, buckeyes, gray hairstreaks, cabbage whites and assorted other butterflies nectar on it. Our jumping spider (we've named him Herman to distinguish him from the other jumping spiders in our pollinator garden, and besides jumping spiders ought to have a name), nails his share of prey.
So here we are, enjoying a sun spurt on Oct. 30 when a cabbage white butterfly tumbles off the flower as if it were on a bungee cord. A closer look: The butterfly was not alone.
Can jumping spiders win the Beer-for-a-Butterfly Contest?
It's not that Herman was just a little bit too early, and the butterfly was just a little bit too slow. Nope.
To claim the prize, you have to deliver the specimen to the UC Davis Department of Evolution and Ecology office at 2320 Storer Hall. Herman neither knows where that is, nor does he care. Plus, the specimen has to be alive, and Herman made sure it wasn't.
Hi, I'm a jumping spider.
I see that you found me on the tropical milkweed, Asclepias curassavica.
I'm just here for the prey, and you are definitely not prey, so not to worry.
I'm a member of the Salticidae family and my family contains more than 600 described genera and more than 6000 described species. I have eight eyes. Actually, that's four pairs of eyes and three secondary pairs. How many eyes do you have? What, only two? You got robbed!
I'm a pretty good hunter. When I detect a potential prey, I orient myself and swivel. When I'm close enough, I pause and attach a dragline and then I sprint onto my prey. Pretty cool, huh?
People don't really notice me until Halloween and then they craft those awful-looking sticky webs and all kinds of weird looking spiders just to scare everybody. Do you need scaring? Please be kind and not yell at me or throw things at me. Think of Halloween as "Be-Kind-to-a-Spider Day."
So, if you see me, a real rendition of the fake Halloween spider, don't poke me or crush me or ask me how high I can jump. Or how far. I don't get into logistics.
I'm just here for the prey, not the questions.