Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Bodacious Jumping Spider

A white smiling face on velvety black is what I spotted. Then I was stunned by flashes of green from the spider's real face.  Those were not his eight, laser-sharp eyes glinting at me, but his shiny, emerald chelicerae - his jaws!  The metallic-green chelicerae are his weapons. The jaws are tipped with sharp fangs and poison ducts which he uses to immobilize his prey.  Jumping spiders are not dangerous to people, but like anyone, they may bite if handled.  Jumping spiders, (family Salticidae, from Latin, saltus = to jump), do not rest on webs waiting for food to be delivered.  They hunt.  They have amazing, binocular vision - the best eyesight of all spiders - and formidable agility.  For a jumping spider, a web is essential safety equipment.  Before making a dramatic pounce on his prey, he would secure a web line so that he could climb back.  This striking fellow, who was stalking amidst my salvias, is Phidipus audax.  He would court a female by waving his atractive front legs at her and wiggling his abdomen.  Audax is a Latin word meaning bold or audacious.  One of my arachnid books labels him the "Daring Jumping Spider," another dubs him the "Bold Jumping Spider."  I may call him the "Bodacious Jumping Spider."

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Green Treefrog

Look at the charming face on this handsome green treefrog, Hyla cinerea.  Wouldn't you love to have golden eyes?  This dapper fellow was resting inside my hose reel box. I had to wait for him to move off of the hose and get settled in another corner before I could water the thirsty plants.

Loggerhead Shrike

I look so cute and fluffy, yes?  But don't be fooled.  I'm the Loggerhead Shrike, Lanius ludovicianus.  See my sharp, hooked beak?  All the better for tearing and dismembering my prey.  I am tough like a little raptor!  Some folks call me the Butcher Bird just because I like to store my food on a thorn or barbed wire.  If you find an impaled grasshopper, lizard or mouse, leave it alone - you may be looking at my leftovers.