Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Jumping Spiders

A jumping spider the size of an Angus beef is living in the roof of my compost bin.

The creature was prowling across the top of the bin when I let the dogs out at noon, moving in these marvelous little leaps forward. I dashed for the studio and my digital camera, but by the time I ran back outside, the hairy black beastie was nowhere to be found. I spotted him again through my studio window, but as I approached the bin, the spider dove into a hole in the lid. Twice more I saw him venture out while I was working on an ink drawing, but the light was failing as evening clouds moved in, and I knew I wouldn't get a good shot.

But now I know where he lives.

I like jumping spiders. I like that swift, sure dodgy way they have of traveling; they are simply gorgeous to look at closely, with lime green or electric blue mandibles (or palps or whatever, I'm not brushed up on my spider physiognomy) and sturdy hairy-looking legs; and I've seen them take flies off marigolds so fast that you don't see the attack, which activity earns them a place in my heart right away.

They're brave little arachnids, too. A lot of times if you tap the ground beside a jumping spider, they'll spin to face your finger, poised to attack if necessary. But times when I've found them inside the house, and nudged them onto a sheet of paper for transport outside, they've been well behaved and not bitten me.

The one in the compost bin lid isn't really the size of a cow. But he would seem that size if you knew you had to pick him up.

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