Knowing thy Enemy:

     Phidippus Audax

Warning!!!

I would like to preface this postcard by stating this very simple fact-I can't stand spiders. They are icky and I'm glad both my cat and dog enjoy eating them so that I don't have to go near them. But in the spirit of this class of trying to imagine the world from a non-human perspective, I have decided to take the great Chinese general Sun Tzu's advice and know my enemy.

Appearance

Most notably, P. audax have a total of eight eyes: the forward-facing anterior median eyes are the largest set of eyes that “look back” at you when you stare at them. Beside these large eyes are two sets of smaller eyes as well as a set of posterior median eyes located nearly on the top of the head. Because they have so many sets of eyes, they have excellent vision used typically for hunting and for visual stimulation during the courting process.

P. audax also are black, hairy, and have little white hairs. On the abdomen, they are marked with a large white spot with two or more smaller spots around the large one. However, this spot pattern may vary. While the white spot may be orange on juveniles, they are always white, yellow, or orange.They also have bright, metallic green or blue chelicerae.

 

Another notable fact about this species is that while males range from 6-13 mm, the females are larger ranging from 8-15 mm. 

Behavior 

P. audax, also known as the bold jumping spider, have the ability to raise their blood pressure in their third and fourth pairs of legs allowing them to jump at least four times their body length-thus their name.

 

These bold jumpers hunt alone during the day and hide at night in small spaces in order to hide from predator who use their sense of touch to catch their prey. When P. audax do hunt, they watch their prey with their many eyes, stalk, and then pounce. Once they pounce on their prey, they bite it, releasing a venom. These spiders are indeed carnivorous, eating other spiders and insects. While males stalk smaller prey and feed less often, the females hunt larger prey and eat more frequently. However, if the insect or animal is too large to eat, these spiders often flee by jumping and hide in small spaces.

Because they are carnivorous, they are important predator of insects, especially cotton plant infesting bugs. In this sense, they protect the cotton plants by controlling the insect population.

Predators: dragonflies, lizards, birds

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Reproduction

P. audax mature in spring and mate late spring into early summer when both the males and females reach their reproductive maturity age at nine months. Males court the females by moving their legs, palps, and chelicerae. In doing these movements, they also display their spots. The males have a set of coiled testes in the abdomen with no copulatory organ. Instead, the seminal fluid goes to the female by a special appendage during copulation. On average, the fecundity is around 200 eggs per female.

However, if the female approaches the male too quickly during this act, the males will jump away (not so bold if you ask me).

The Phidippus audax can be located across North America. It is presumed, however, that this species was not originally located in the southwest. However, with human settlements and expansion, they brought the spiders with them to that region.

 

Habitat: grasslands, woodlands, fields, gardens, backyards

(Sadly) their habitat is not threatened and they are (unfortunately) quite common.

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References

“Bold Jumping Spider Phidippus Audax Sightings.” Wildlife Sightings,       

    http://www.wildlifesightings.net/Animals/Wildlife2/BoldJumpingSpiderPhidippus

    AudaxInsect.php?O=GeneralInformation#x2c-mWhKjIU. Accessed 15 

    September 2020.

Knight, K. “Phidippus audax.” Animal Diversity Web, https://animaldiversity.org/

     accounts/Phidippus_audax/. accessed 15 September 2020.

 

Links

***Sketchy Spiders brought to you by my boyfriend since he got tired of my squealing at actual pictures of these creepy crawlers***