Wild Thing: Green Jumper
The magnolia green jumping spider is both a garden friend and shameless flirt.
By Sarah Bloodworth
Spiders make me jump, so whenever I see a jumping spider, get ready for a gymnastics match for all species involved. Yet when it comes to the magnolia green jumping spider, my fear quickly transforms into admiration for this uniquely transparent, neon-green arachnid. Just as quickly as I can recognize this distinctive species, it’s gone.The magnolia green jumping spider is rightfully named. It can jump multiple times its own body length, and it has a distinct green color. The crown on its head can be red, orange, yellow or white. Unlike other jumping spider species, the magnolia green isn’t furry and has slender legs.
These spiders love humid, hot climates, so it’s no wonder that they can be found in Texas (as well as Florida, Mississippi and Tennessee). Oak, maple, pine and, yes, magnolia trees are common daytime hunting grounds and offer camouflage for this species.
Magnolia green jumping spiders have eight eyes, including two large eyes in front, with acute vision for an invertebrate. They can stalk prey efficiently without a web. The spider moves mainly by walking and running and may use a single silk strand to anchor to a jumping-off spot (think Spider-Man). When the spider sees its prey, it uses a signature jumping move to grapple and devour it.
Male spiders have courtship versatility, which means that they can skillfully flirt, and can customize their mating tactics to the maturity level and location of the female. For example, if the female is mature and away from her nest, the male will use visual displays such as flipping and elevating its legs. Other times, the male may use vibratory displays such as abdomen twitching to communicate courtship.
After mating, typically in May, the female will spin a sheet of silk on the underside of a leaf and attach her eggs to it. She guards her eggs until they hatch in August. Then the mother dies.
The spider’s web nest is unique, and some entomologists don’t even classify it as a “web.” The structure is often layered and dense, unlike the classic, net-like spider web.
In Texas, you are likely to encounter the magnolia green jumping spider between March and June. The spiders are harmless to humans, and they provide important ecosystem services.
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