A Jumping Spider, Dancing Butterflies.

The chill of autumn has started to bite signalling a change of seasons and right on cue are sightings of the beautiful velvety Cape Autumn Widow butterflies.  Hundreds can be see hovering above the grassy banks along my coastal hiking path.   Dainty creatures flitting to and fro.  The reference book says that they will deposit their larvae eggs amongst the kikuyu and low shrubs.   I’ve began to suspect that hordes of caterpillars will soon be descending into my seaside garden.  Only plants of a hardy nature thrive next to the coast and one of the species that does well is statice, or sea lavender.   The fine, lacy flowers come in shades of blue, lilac and pink and they are prized as cut flowers  for their ‘everlasting’ quality.  Whilst the flowers have an almost papery texture, the leaves are a power house of green vitality.  Of all the plants in the garden these are the ones which are mercilessly munched down to the stems and in the past a bristly caterpillar has been the culprit.  I’ve not been able to track down the identity, but have a very strong suspicion that they are the offspring of those gorgeous dancing butterflies.  Already there are the signs as tiny, skinny worms appear by the day.    Investigating further i discovered to my surprise that Salticidae – Jumping spiders have also taken up residence.   Known for their acrobatic flying stunts, they’re dubbed the bungee jumpers of the arachnid family.   Attached by silk strands they’re able to launch into the air after flying insects and should they fluff it they able to return safely along their shoot lines.  They’re also equipped with four pairs of eyes for excellent all-round vision.  Would it be that they’ll be tempted to a juicy fat worm or two?  I wonder?

The handsome Widow, note the orange and blue spots.
The handsome Widow, note the orange and blue spots.
The papery bracts of lilac statice.
The papery bracts of lilac statice.
A unquenchable appetite.
A voracious appetite.
The most delectable leaves.
The most delectable leaves.
Larvae hatch.
Larvae hatch.
The acrobat, Salticidae - the Jumping Spider.
The acrobat, Salticidae – the Jumping Spider.
Note the two pairs of frontal eyes, another two appear laterally.
Poised and ready to jump.  Note the two pairs of frontal eyes, another two appear laterally.

21 thoughts on “A Jumping Spider, Dancing Butterflies.

    1. Thanks Snogumman 🙂 They’re tiny about 10mm…. but very feisty. May be able to handle the newly hatched larvae, but doubt they’d tackle the full out bristly critters. Keeping a watch…

  1. Lovely post as always.
    I was reading earlier ones and see you are in Simons Town. I have fond memories of visiting the Naval Museum and walking up the wooden steps into the chapel, the treads worn by the thousands of feet that had passed before, a hundred years after my grandfather had visited when in the Royal Navy. My father visited too on a holiday a few years before me so I guess it’s become a family tradition!

    1. Nice to read your connection with Simon’s Town and your family tradition. In your grandfather’s day it would have been quite the bustling naval base, bet he had some stories to tell. Glad you got a taste of the steeped ‘naval air’ although our ‘fleet’ is very much pared back these days! Love it when we have visiting foreign naval vessels for a bit of pomp and ceremony.

  2. Awesome, especially that jumping spider, hello! You threw me with the talk of autumn at first, then I realized where you were writing this from. Good inspiration, now I’m thinking it’s been too long since I’ve done much macro. Thanks!

  3. Fabulous set of photos, Liz. Our jumping spiders are more green than yours – I imagine there are different varieties. I saw a butterfly today – first time this season.

    1. 🙂 thanks Sid. Always enjoy your comments! Yup the Salticidae are an impressive spider family…. over 500 genera and more than 5000 described species! Amazing traits.. athleticism, keen eyesight and territorial assertion – very alert hunters. Glad to read of your butterfly sighting, a promise of spring in the air?

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