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Posts Tagged: jumping spider

Spiders? Scary? Spooky?

Black widow spider and egg sacs. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
"Look, there's a spider!"

A sure-fire way to frighten arachnophobics is the very mention of "spiders"--especially on Halloween.

Spiders aren't insects but arthropods, order Araneae. They have eight legs, which according to some, are seven legs too many. They are also distinguished by their chelicerae with fangs that inject venom. 

You've seen them. Black widow spiders. Jumping spiders. Crab spiders. Garden spiders. 

If you fear them, there's a name for that fear: Arachnophobia. Wikipedia says that "People with arachnophobia tend to feel uneasy in any area they believe could harbor spiders or that has visible signs of their presence, such as webs. If arachnophobics see a spider, they may not enter the general vicinity until they have overcome the panic attack that is often associated with their phobia. Some people scream, cry, have trouble breathing, have excessive sweating or even heart trouble when they come in contact with an area near spiders or their webs. In some extreme cases, even a picture or a realistic drawing of a spider can also trigger fear."

So many myths about spiders.  The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, University of Washington,  Seattle, has posted some of the myths, misconceptions and superstitions on its website.

The general fallacies, as listed by Rod Crawford, curator of arachnids: 

General Fallacies

Meanwhile, over at the Bohart Museum of Entomology at the University of California, Davis, plans are underway for an open house themed "Insect Myths." They will focus on spider myths, too.

The event, free and open to the public, is set for Sunday, Nov. 23 from 1 to 4 p.m. in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane,  off LaRue Road.  Directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, the museum houses a global collection of nearly eight million specimens and is the home of the seventh largest insect collection in North America, and the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity. The museum is open to the public four days a week, Monday through Thursday (9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m.)  but it sponsors special weekend open houses as well.

The remaining schedule:

  • Sunday, Nov. 23: “Insect Myths,” 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 20: “Insects and Art,” 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Sunday, Jan. 11: “Parasitoid Palooza,” 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Sunday, Feb. 8: “Biodiversity Museum Day,” noon to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 14: “Pollination Nation,” 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 18: UC Davis Picnic Day, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Sunday, May 17: “Name That Bug! How About Bob?” 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, July 18: “Moth Night,” 8 to 11 p.m.

 When you attend the Bohart Museum open houses, you'll probably have the opportunity to hold and/or photograph "Rosie," a 24-year-old tarantula. It's one of the critters in the live "petting zoo," which also includes Madagascar hissing cockroaches, millipedes and walking sticks.

Jumping spider eyes the photographer. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Jumping spider eyes the photographer. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Jumping spider eyes the photographer. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Crab spider on sedum eyes a honey bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Crab spider on sedum eyes a honey bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Crab spider on sedum eyes a honey bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Garden spider captures a honey bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Garden spider captures a honey bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Garden spider captures a honey bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Friday, October 31, 2014 at 2:06 PM

Stop and Smell the Roses! (And Watch for Jumping Spiders!)

"Stop and smell the roses!"

It's a good way to savor the moment, of living in the present instead of the past or future.

We delight in the aroma of the "Sparkle and Shine" yellow rose that we purchased several years ago at the California Center for Urban Horticulture's annual Rose Day on the UC Davis campus.

Sometimes there's an added bonus--a praying mantis, a honey bee, a longhorned bee, European wool carder bee, carpenter bee, a hover fly, a butterfly, or another insect. They do not all get along. Like beginners in an elementary school band, they do not play well together. Some of the territorial bees want to claim ownership ("Mine! mine! mine!"). The honey bees linger longer than they should. The butterflies don't. The hover flies hover. And the praying mantis? It just wants dinner.

Today, it was not an insect but an arthropod that caught our attention: a jumping spider. We pointed the Canon MPE-65mm lens directly in its eyes. It just looked back at us, figuring we were no threat.

If you like to "look back" at insects or arthropods, then you should head over to the UC Davis open house this Saturday, Sept. 27 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, Room 1124 of the Academic Surge building on Crocker Lane. It's off LaRue Road. The open house is free and open to the public.

The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, houses some eight million specimens, plus a live "petting zoo," filled with critters you can hold, such as walking sticks, millipedes, Madagascar hissing cockroaches, and tarantulas.

It's a day when entomologists will be there to show you how to collect insects, pin a butterfly, and how to look through a microscope. You'll also see a bee observation hive provided by the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility.

And, if you have a mind to, you can visit the gift shop and purchase such items as nets, T-shirts, jewelry, posters and books.

You'll even find books on spiders.

A jumping spider, nestled in the petals of a yellow rose,
A jumping spider, nestled in the petals of a yellow rose, "Sparkle and Shine," looks at the photographer. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A jumping spider, nestled in the petals of a yellow rose, "Sparkle and Shine," looks at the photographer. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Wednesday, September 24, 2014 at 10:01 PM

Bumble Bees and Spiders Don't Mix?

Bumble bees and spiders don't mix, you say?

Well, they will at the Bohart Museum of Entomology's open house from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, July 26. The family-centered event, free and open to the public, takes place in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus.

Actually the theme is about spiders: "Arachnids: Awesome or Awful?" There you'll see black widow spiders, jumping spiders, cellar spiders and the like. But you don't have to "like" them as you do posts on Facebook!

You can also learn about bumble bees. Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, will be one of the tour guides.  Thorp co-authored the newly published Bumble Bees of North America: An Identification Guide, which is available in the Bohart gift shop. He can autograph your book and answer questions about how to attract bees to your garden.

Thorp was recently interviewed by Tom Oder of the Mother Nature Network on how to garden for bumble bees. So was Steve Buchmann, an adjunct professor in entomology and ecology at the University of Arizona.

Thorp told Mother Nature Network that some bumble bees are in very serious decline, and others are doing quite well.

So, how do you attract them to your garden? Buchmann was quoted as saying: “Gardening for bumblebees is similar to gardening for other bees and pollinators."  To entice bumblebees to visit your garden, “plant mints, Salvia, Monarda, plants in the sunflower family and clovers."

Read Oder's article for more information.

And keep your eyes open for the soon-to-be-published California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists, co-authored by entomologist Gordon Frankie of UC Berkeley, Thorp, and two others with UC Berkeley connections: photographer/entomologist Rollin Coville and floral curator Barbara Ertter.

As for Saturday, July 26 there won't be a vote on whether you like bumble bees or spiders better, nor will you be asked to sing "Itsy Bitsy Spider" or "Baby Bumble Bee." It promises, though, to be fun and educational. Plus, you can enjoy the live  "petting zoo," featuring 24-year-old Rosie the tarantula, assorted walking sticks, and the colorful Madagascar hissing cockroaches. Yes, they hiss.

The gift shop is also popular. You can browse through the books, jewelry, t-shirts, sweatshirts, insect-themed candy, butterfly houses, and insect-collecting kits.

The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, houses nearly eight million insect specimens and is the seventh largest insect collection in North America. It is also the home of the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of insect biodiversity. Noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) founded the museum.

 

The museum's regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. It's closed to the public on Fridays and on major holidays. Admission is free. For more information, email education and outreach coordinator Tabatha Yang at tabyang@ucdavis.edu or telephone her at (530) 752-0493.

A camouflaged jumping spider eyes a honey bee on Japanese anemone. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A camouflaged jumping spider eyes a honey bee on Japanese anemone. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A camouflaged jumping spider eyes a honey bee on Japanese anemone. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Robbin Thorp points at a yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenski. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Robbin Thorp points at a yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenski. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Robbin Thorp points at a yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenski. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Friday, July 25, 2014 at 9:12 PM

Lurking in the Orchid Cactus

Jumping spider, a floral visitor. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
It's Veterans' Day, but to jumping spiders, it's just another day--another day to ambush unsuspecting prey.

We spotted this jumping spider on an orchid cactus, Epiphyllum (Greek for "upon the leaf"). It was catching a little morning sun and poised for business.

We bought this cactus at the Luther Burbank Gold Ridge Experiment Farm in Sebastopol last year. The genus, Epiphyllum, is native to Central America, and we imagine that Burbank probably treasured it for its brilliant fragrant flowers, edible fruit and broad, flat stems. It attracts honey bees, syrphid flies, butterflies and other pollinators.

If you get a chance, you should not only visit the renowned Luther Burbank Home and Gardens in Santa Rosa, but his little experimental farm in Sebastopol.

Burbank, born March 7, 1849 on a farm outside of Lancaster, Mass., was one of a kind. "During his career he introduced over 800 varieties of fruits, flowers, vegetables, and grains," according to Western Sonoma Historical Society website. "He developed many of California's plums and prunes, the ancestor of the Idaho Potato, the Shasta Daisy, and novelties such as Plumcots, Thornless Blackberry, and Spineless Cactus. See Luther Burbank Biography."

His home in Santa Rosa was and is primarily a showplace, but his little farm in Sebastopol was his workshop. When he died in 1926, his widow donated some of the land to the City of Sebastopol. Restoration of the cottage began in 1983. 

Today, it's a lovely little place, rather secluded without visitors but beckoning to all. You can take self-guided tours or book a guided tour with a docent.

As for the orchid cactus now growing in our yard, we think Luther Burbank would have been pleased.

And pleased with our little visitor, the jumping spider, too. 

A jumping spider on an orchid cactus, Epiphyllum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A jumping spider on an orchid cactus, Epiphyllum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A jumping spider on an orchid cactus, Epiphyllum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Monday, November 11, 2013 at 8:23 PM

About Those Jumping Spiders!

Ivan Schwab
Every day should be Spider Appreciation Day, but especially on Halloween.

Ophthalmologist and professor Ivan Schwab of the UC Davis Health System says that spiders “get a bad rap. Few would harm you, and only rarely are spiders aggressive towards humans.  Most will defend themselves if threatened, of course, and a few are venomous. Most spiders, however, would prefer to ignore humans and be ignored by us.”

At his UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology seminar on Oct. 23 in Briggs Hall, Dr. Schwab told the crowd that jumping spiders have the “best acuity of all spiders.” They are ambush spiders, lying in wait for prey.

If you visit your garden or a neighborhood park, you may see a jumping spider looking back at you. Last Sunday we spotted a jumping spider lurking beneath the petals of a yellow rose. Meanwhile, a honey bee foraged above it.

That reminded us of what Dr. Schwab said about spiders and how they see.

Background: Dr. Schwab directs the Cornea and External Disease Service and serves as the medical advisor of the eye bank, as well as professor of ophthalmology in the Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Science. He’s the author of five books, including the highly acclaimed Evolution’s Witness: How Eyes Evolved, published in November 2011. He describes the eye as "evolution's greatest gift and its greatest triumph."

The UC Davis ophthalmologist writes an informative blog, Evolution’s Witness, and recently penned one, with amazing detail, on jumping spiders. “Jumping spiders are positively charming creatures, and you will know that to be true if you have ever watched one closely.  These are common spiders and range from approximately 3 to 17 mm in length and will watch you closely as you approach them.  They have four pairs of eyes, with the large anterior median (AM) set the most obvious. These circular eyes provide an ‘attentive child’ appearance because they are fixed and are relatively large based on body size, but are tiny on an absolute scale.  These placid eyes belie the organized complexity and evolutionary genius that lies beneath the carapace.”

Dr. Schwab goes on to describe the AM eyes as "Galilean telescopes with a corneal lens fixed to the carapace, and a second 'lens' at the end of a small tube immediately in front of the retina."

"This compact telephoto lens system combined with the tiered retina," he says, "achieves excellent acuity, but only a very tiny field of vision. So, to increase this field of acute vision, this optical marvel moves the tube housing the retina with six muscles per eye by mostly scanning movements. This is akin to a raster scan similar to those seen on a TV or computer screen.  Jumping spiders scan their world much like painting a wall with a fine brush although the retina is not linear, but shaped more like a boomerang. The other pairs of eyes do not scan and are principally used as motion detectors to find other animals for the AM eyes to decipher."

"With the AM eyes, jumping spiders have the finest discrimination of all arthropods, and probably all invertebrates as they are visual hunters, whereas most other spiders use the tools of silk."

Dr. Schwab marvels at how a jumping spider is able to see so well and ambush its prey. "If the spider moves, it may frighten the prey, so the spider needs another mechanism." Read Dr. Schwab's column for the details on that mechanism. After you do, you'll come away with a greater appreciation of jumping spiders and that most amazing organ, the eye.

By the way, this visual hunter (below) didn't nab the honey bee Sunday afternoon....but it may have later.

Jumping spider peering between the petals of a yellow rose. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Jumping spider peering between the petals of a yellow rose. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Jumping spider peering between the petals of a yellow rose. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Close-up of jumping spider as it emerges from its hiding place. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up of jumping spider as it emerges from its hiding place. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Close-up of jumping spider as it emerges from its hiding place. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Side view of jumping spider. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Side view of jumping spider. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Side view of jumping spider. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey

The prey (honey bee) that the predator (jumping spider) was seeking. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The prey (honey bee) that the predator (jumping spider) was seeking. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The prey (honey bee) that the predator (jumping spider) was seeking. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Thursday, October 31, 2013 at 4:34 PM

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