inkspotters!  i have not been this excited about webnesday since i got to post the Porrhothele pics.  are you ready?  i know, i have been terribly delinquent and have not only missed two editions but also misnumbered the previous post (now fixed).  i apologize, and i’m about to make it up to you in spades.

i am currently visiting the natural history museum in santa barbara.  (the absence of any posts from this trip so far is a separate issue, to be rectified shortly.)  and while poking through squid jars, of course one eye is always peeled for other eight-legged, more animated wildlife.  cue the webnesday theme song (um, now accepting submissions?)… yesterday, two little jumping spiders (roughly of this ilk i think?) hopped across my workspace and were duly impounded for observation.  (and released, of course.)

here they are – and i know salticids get disproportionate attention here, but look at them.  can you really gaze into those four frontal eyes and not be smitten?

webnesday, episode 26 (showdown edition)

well, that’s not the end of the story.  today, no fewer than four individuals, all of this same species, appeared in various corners of the lab.  for a brief moment i even thought i had several males and a female, but (luckily for anyone who quails at the thought of business time in the spider world) they all turned out to be males.

and while observing them, i began to wonder how males react when they bump into each other, as they must do fairly often (given that i found four of them in under ten minutes).  fears of cannibalism did cross my mind, so i introduced them to each other slowly, through barriers at first.  they seemed disinterested until they were actually sharing a petri dish and then look what happened.

[unfortunately this post was written when the inkspot was hosted elsewhere and was capable of hosting videos.  if i ever get that capability back here i will re-post the clips because they are amazing!]

my favorite part was when they got right in each other’s faces, literally eye to eye, and started pushing, while still posturing with the front legs.

there was no physical fighting – well, no violence, no biting (luckily for my conscience.  although i was ready to separate them quickly if necessary) – just the alternating dance of the quivering pedipalps and reaching legs, and then the head-butting.

i don’t mind telling you, i was enthralled.  and i don’t think i stressed them too much – made sure the stand-offs were between similar-sized individuals and didn’t expose them to each other for longer then a couple minutes; and all were released into their separate corners afterward.  so, happy ending for everyone except the resident entomologist, whom i pestered a number of times with ‘hey, look what they’re doing now!’

ps, i have a new video camera.  :)

webnesday, episode 26 (showdown edition)

webnesday, episode 26 (showdown edition)

webnesday, episode 26 (showdown edition)