Back to Reality

When I check my blog feed from time to time, I do see that I still receive visitors, which makes me feel bad that I haven’t had the opportunity to post for so long. Truth is, these past two months since I have returned from Panama have been the busiest I can ever remember, and (unfortunately) very little of it has to do with spiders.

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Some of it had to do with this dog, I suppose. That’s Rocky, who was happy to see me return.
Since I've been back, Rocky now seems to think that he has privileges on the couch!
Since I’ve been back, Rocky now seems to think that he has privileges on the couch!

Today has been the first day I’ve actually had time to write something besides computer code and a novel I’ve been struggling to finish–mostly because I need a break from HTML and CSS and I’m at an all weekend swim meet with noise levels that aren’t very conducive to the intense concentration required for creative writing.

The only recent spider news has come from a great entomologist out in Oklahoma, Philip K. Morton, who was nice enough to collect some Bagheera prosper, a supposedly close relative of Bagheera kiplingi, that lives in the southern central United States. He sent me more than 20 samples, which I have been keeping on a steady diet of fruit flies, so obviously they aren’t very vegetarian (if at all). I can’t really make many conclusions from my experience with B. prosper, though, because even B. kiplingi can be kept alive on fruit flies for several weeks to months. The only way I can truly be sure that B. prosper does not exhibit any vegetarian tendencies is through stable isotope analysis, which I will discuss in another post.

Lake Tawakoni isn't far from Dallas in northern Texas. I still have a cactus that I collected from the area.
Lake Tawakoni isn’t far from Dallas in northern Texas. I still have a cactus that I collected from the area.
Lake Texoma sits right on the Texas/ Oklahoma border, which must be how it gets its name.
Lake Texoma sits right on the Texas/ Oklahoma border, which must be how it gets its name.

Dr. Morton’s shipment brought back memories of my own journey to Oklahoma and Texas, where I collected B. prosper and several other species of jumping spider myself. Most of my collections came from around Lakes Texoma and Tawakoni, and it seemed I could find these little salticids just about everywhere.

This male Bagheera prosper was a particularly impressive specimen. Note the forward-projecting mouthparts, or chelicerae
This male Bagheera prosper was a particularly impressive specimen. Note the forward-projecting mouthparts, or chelicerae
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Eris militaris is another jumping spider (salticid) from the same exact area, and for unknown reasons, the male’s coloration is exactly like Bagheera prosper. This is something I hope to investigate further someday.
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Here is a female Bagheera prosper, which looks very different from the male. This is a similar situation to Bagheera kiplingi.
Amazingly, the female Eris militaris resembles the female B. prosper way more than it resembles the male of its own species. There has to be a reason for this... but what?
Amazingly, the female Eris militaris resembles the female B. prosper way more than it resembles the male of its own species. There has to be a reason for this… but what?

There weren’t just B. prosper and E. militaris that I found, either. Here are a couple more of my favorites:

Salticus austinensis was definitely my favorite of all!
Salticus austinensis was definitely my favorite of all!
And Phidippus audax were just as easy to find as they are in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. I think that the Oklahoma ones were bigger, though.
And Phidippus audax were just as easy to find as they are in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. I think that the Oklahoma ones were bigger, though.

Since I’ve been back in the United States, aside from my new Bagheera prosper collection, most of my arthropod contact had been with my hermit crabs.

Just look at them go!

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