At Caesar’s Head State Park recently, I was looking for birds migrating but it was pretty slow. So a wisp of spiderweb caught my attention. A Putnams Jumping Spider, Phidippus Putnami, was moving all around the very handrail we were leaning on.
Why would a Jumping Spider Spin Silk?
We’ve explored the fact that jumping spiders are ambush predators, but this one was trailing a line of silk. Why do jumping spiders use silk if they lie in wait for predators to ambush them? Several reasons turned up.
- The Spider can shoot silk in the direction of an insect prey, stopping it for long enough to jump on and inject venom.
- Spiders use silk to protect eggs.
- Jumping spiders trail a web behind them, giving them an easy way to return to where they start: it provides some safety and protection from wasted effort.
- Spider researchers have found that trailing silk assists in intentional navigation in terms of landing accuracy.
A little further down the trail, we find a leaf with tiny criss-crossed webs on it. This may be an egg sac of this species, which uses webs to protect the eggs.
In August when I was looking at some blooming salicornia, this little one was on the sea blite nearby, jealously guarding some sort of insect larva it was munching. I think the colors are so interesting, and the spiky hairs really give this guy some personality!
Not a Spider Fan?
Until recently, I wasn’t either. But I really believe that to help care for our planet, we need to understand and work with nature’s ways. That means rethinking my relationship with bugs and spiders. If we can keep the plants that attract the insects that keep things in balance, we’ll have reduced our reliance on chemicals and pesticides that cause harm to far more than the “pests” we’re trying to reduce!