What, Miss Muffet ran away? Obviously, she had no career plans to become an arachnologist or to celebrate "National Save a Spider Day."
Today, you know, is "National Save a Spider Day."
I did not save a spider today.
I did see one, however, on a cactus in our yard, but he/she did not need saving. It was a bold jumping spider, Phidippus audax, which boldly jumped off the cactus when I raced into the house to retrieve my camera.
"National Save a Spider Day" is a good time to remind you that the University of California, Davis, will be the site of the 2022 American Arachnological Society (AAS) convention, set from Sunday, June 26 through Thursday, June 30.
It will be hosted by two UC Davis arachnologists: Jason Bond, the Evert and Marion Schlinger Endowed Chair in Insect Systematics, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, and associate dean, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences; and Joel Ledford, assistant professor of teaching, Department of Plant Biology, College of Biological Sciences. Formal meeting registration will begin Sunday afternoon, June 26, followed by an evening reception. A local daylong field trip is planned for Thursday, June 30. (Pre-register for the meeting here.)
Bond says that in collaboration with the UC Davis Bohart Museum of Entomology and the University of Nebraska, “we will also host a pre-meeting, outreach event, ‘Eight-Legged Encounters' for the Davis community and campus. It's tentatively planned for Saturday, June 25. Those interested in attending should contact Bond at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spider Information. The AAS website is a great place to learn about spiders--and to ask questions.
If you want to start learning about common spiders found in California, the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program website provides basic information on black widow spiders, jumping spiders, hobo spiders, common house spiders, and tarantulas, among others. A table, illustrated with photos, lists the common spider families in North America.
The Bohart Museum offers several fact sheets on its website about spiders: Sac spiders, wolf spiders, cellar spiders, recluse spiders/brown recluse, widows and jumping spiders. The Bohart also provides information on spider bites. (Bites? Probably what Miss Muffet "who sat on a tuffet eating her curds and whey" was afraid of? Or maybe she didn't want to share her lunch?)
We've seen spiders NOT sharing their lunch of honey bees, syrphid flies, lady beetles and lygus bugs.
If you dislike spiders, you might want to check out the political scene (probably not!), the almond pollination season (yes, it's coming), or ask Siri "When does spring begin? (Answer: March 20)
Wait, are you still there? Whew! Then you'll want to know about the upcoming gathering of arachnologists--those who engage in the scientific study of arachnids, including spiders, scorpions and tarantulas.
News flash: The University of California, Davis, will be the site of the 2022 American Arachnological Society (AAS) convention. It's set from Sunday, June 26 through Thursday, June 30.
It will be hosted by two UC Davis arachnologists: Jason Bond, the Evert and Marion Schlinger Endowed Chair in Insect Systematics, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, and associate dean, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences; and Joel Ledford, assistant professor of teaching, Department of Plant Biology, College of Biological Sciences.
Formal meeting registration will begin Sunday afternoon, June 26, followed by an evening reception. A local daylong field trip is planned for Thursday, June 30. (Pre-register for the meeting at https://ces.ucdavis.edu/AASM)
"We typically expect somewhere around 125-150," Bond says.
The event is sponsored by the U.S. National Science Foundation. In collaboration with the UC Davis Bohart Museum of Entomology and the University of Nebraska, “we will also host a pre-meeting, outreach event, ‘Eight-Legged Encounters' for the Davis community and campus,” Bond said. It's tentatively planned for Saturday, June 25. Those interested in attending should contact Bond at email@example.com.
The purpose of the American Arachnological Society, founded in 1972, is “to further the study of arachnids, foster closer cooperation and understanding between amateur and professional arachnologists, and to publish the Journal of Arachnology," according to its website.
Factoid from AAS: "Spiders (order Araneae) are air-breathing arthropods that have eight legs and chelicerae with fangs able to inject venom. They are the largest order of arachnids and rank seventh in total species diversity among all orders of organisms. Spiders are found worldwide on every continent except for Antarctica, and have become established in nearly every habitat with the exceptions of air and sea colonization. As of March 2021, at least 49,200 spider species, and 129 families have been recorded by taxonomists. However, there has been dissension within the scientific community as to how all these families should be classified, as evidenced by the over 20 different classifications that have been proposed since 1900."
Question: "Is it true that the black widow spider always eats her mate?"
Answer: "Nope. Black widow females are no more likely than any other female spider to eat their mates. If the female is ready to mate and if the male sings the right sweet silk song to her, then she will allow him to approach and to mate. If the female is not particularly hungry, she will likely allow the male to leave unscathed after copulation. However, the female black widow, as is common in spiders, is larger than the male. Thus, if she is hungry, she may feed on the male but this is true of many species of spiders."
Meanwhile, if you want to learn the basics about common spiders found in California, the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program website offers information on black widow spiders, jumping spiders, common house spiders, and tarantulas, among others (including the hobo spider, which is not found in California). A table, illustrated with photos, lists the common spider families in North America, including:
- Agelenidae, funnel weavers or grass spiders
- Araneidae, orb weavers or garden spiders
- Clubionidae (including Corinnidae), sac spiders or twoclawed hunting spiders
- Linyphiidae (=Microphantidae), dwarf spiders
- Lycosidae, wolf spiders
- Oxyopidae, lynx spiders
- Salticidae, jumping spiders
- Theridiidae, cobweb, cobweb weaver, or combfooted spiders
- Thomisidae, crab spiders or flower spiders
If you're like me, you've probably seen--and admired--scores of spiders in your garden. Want to know who's coming to dinner? Here are images of some of my favorites:
Last summer we spotted what appeared to be the red-backed jumping spider, Phidippus johnsoni (famiiy Salticidae), stalking native bees and honey bees in our yard.
Its iridescent green chelicerae, which characterizes many species in the genus, literally glowed.
It wasn't a good hunter. It missed its prey time after time.
So, it should be interesting when Damian Elias, assistant professor, Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, UC Berkeley, comes to UC Davis on Wednesday, Feb. 8 to speak on "Multimodal Communication in Jumping Spiders" from 12:10 to 1 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 8 in 122 Briggs Hall.
"Animals use a variety of senses to navigate the world," Elias says. "While humans are adept at sensing the world through visual, auditory, and olfactory (smell) information, some animals use senses that are imperceptible to human observers. The vast majority of life on the planet uses vibrations transmitted through solid objects (substrate-borne vibration) to communicate and up until recently, this crucial aspect of animal biology was completely unknown."
The jumping spider he is currently focusing on is Phidippus clarus.
Elias, who received his doctorate in neurobiology and behavior from Cornell in 2005, says he uses behavioral ecology techniques to study different aspects of communication. In particular, he is interested in questions regarding sexual selection, mating system evolution, signal design and responses to population, ecological, and environmental variation.
If you look on YouTube, you'll see an excellent macro video of the same jumping spider, Phidippus clarus, that Damian Elias studies. It's the work of Oklahoma artist Thomas Shahan (who also teaches macro photography in the popular BugShot workshop).
And, if you think that's amazing, check out the even more spectacular images of jumping spider photos on Shahan's website.
It wasn't an itsy bitsy spider.
And it didn't climb up the water spout.
It was climbing all over the tower of jewels, ready to stalk and pounce on prey.
We spotted this male jumping spider in the genus Phidippus (as identified by Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis) cruising the interstate of a nine-foot-high tower of jewels (Echium wildpretii).
The tower of jewels is a bee-friendly plant, but it's also spider-friendly.
The eight-eyed jumping spider (four large eyes on its face and four smaller eyes on top of the head) is considered an excellent predator because of its keen eyesight and amazing speed. Although it's only about two centimeters (less than 0.8) long, it can jump about 40 to 50 times its length. It's distinguished, too, by its iridescent green chelicerae or mouthparts.
The kneeling photographer and the jumping spider went eye to eye--well, two eyes versus eight eyes--and then the spider crawled under a stem.
I was hoping it would jump.