The Jumping Spider’s Better Part of Valor

Jumping Spider turning back from another spider and its nest area

A jumping spider thinks better of invading the territory of a mesh web weaver (?) spider

My alternate title for this post was “Saving It For Later,” but I wanted to give the jumper proper billing. Now I will proceed to talk about myself. (Ha!)

I consider my photography foremost an artistic endeavor, but the nature of high magnification macro photography is many shots fail to be works of art. Dealing with the unpredictabilities of arthropods leaves me with shots like the one above. There are many shots deleted, left to the oblivion of my hard drive, waiting for me to create or add a new file to rewrite that space. And yet I save a lot of crummy shots because they provide information to identify the subject, a reference to the conditions that led to an unsatisfactory result, and a simple record of what I shot on any given day (sometimes I only fire off one or two shots before the bug bolts). In the case of the above photograph, neither the jumping spider nor the other spider (did you notice the tip of its abdomen behind the curl of the leaf?) and its egg sac, were novel subjects. They weren’t even in a position for a particularly good shot to begin with, but I took the shot because I saw a confrontation brewing. The jumping spider, with the trademark peculiar curiosity of its brethren, approached the lair of (possibly) a mesh web weaver spider. The latter had an egg sac – that blinding white glob – and my guess was that the spider would protect it at the greatest cost (not to mention itself). But then things became curiouser and curiouser: the jumper came up to the webbing, paused a moment feeling out its surroundings, and promptly turned around, casually making an exit.

In my experience, it was quite a unique micro-scene: two worlds about to collide, with an inevitable winner and loser. I had to act fast, and as you can see was unable to properly adjust the settings of camera. The scene however was worth preserving despite the blast of white, underrepresented second spider, and the poor focus. The art was missing but the documentary record was there. I’m very fortunate to have caught this scene at all. Hopefully next time I will be quicker on the settings (maybe I’ll learn how to use a preset feature). In the meanwhile I’m glad to have the record.

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