When I walk the main road that parallels the creek, I don’t have to worry too much about encountering rattlesnakes. But, I still tend to spend a lot of time looking down at my feet and the path ahead. There are several species of darkling and ironclad beetle whose cryptic coloration blends easily into the blacktop. I do my best to avoid stepping on them and any other smaller critters that might be scurrying past as well.
The other day, a slight bit of movement next to a fallen oak leaf caught my eye and I was rewarded with the opportunity to photograph this wonderful jumping spider:
Jumping Spiders (Family:Salticidae) have got to be my favorite family of spiders. (If you have never noticed them before, I seriously encourage you to seek them out in your garden or local wildlife area. Feel free to ask me if you want tips on where to look!) In addition to incredible patterns and colors, they seem fearless and have loads of personality. They are very aware of your presence and will actively watch you (or your camera’s) movement. I don’t know if it’s a defensive maneuver or just curiosity, but they will often jump directly at you (or on you!) if you get too close or corner them. Don’t worry… they are completely harmless!
[NOTE: I believe that this is an immature Johnson Jumper (Phidippus johnsoni). I’m basing this assumption on input I have gotten from several images I’ve submitted to BugGuide.net for identification. But, determining species in immature spiders is often difficult and so I’m still uncertain.]