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Monday, May 21, 2012

The orange-legged conductor

If you've been following this blog, you can probably tell that I'm enamored with jumping spiders.  On 20 May 2012, I encountered one (or two) fascinating species in a disturbed, gravelly area with sparse vegetation on Bodega Head.

The first individual I saw had bright orange hairs covering the front legs, reminding me of an orangutan (or a yeti crab).  It also had a row of spiky gray hairs above its eyes.  See below for several views.

Then I noticed a few of these very small (only a few millimeters long) juvenile jumping spiders (next photo).  I wondered if these gray juveniles would grow up to look like the orange-legged adult?

But after looking further, I found a few adults predominantly gray in color.  See below for several views.

I was photographing a gray adult and was surprised when nearby movement caught my eye and an orange-legged adult appeared and started to display.  It moved its palps up and down very rapidly, and then extended its bright orange legs vertically, like a music conductor!

Beautiful color patterns and intriguing behaviors!  Now I'm wondering if these are the same species?  Is it possible the males have orange legs and the females are gray?  Could this be Habronattus tarsalis?  If anyone can help with the i.d., I'd love to hear more.  

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