Might as well jump.

As I was photographing a female Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum) perching on the boardwalk at Huntley Meadows Park on 11 November 2014, I noticed a small spider moving toward the dragonfly quickly.

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (female)

I remember thinking, “No way this smaller spider is preying upon a larger dragonfly.” Turns out the spider actually may have been stalking the dragonfly!

Apparently there is some risk associated with a dragonfly attempting to capture a jumping spider. Fitch (1963) observed an adult Phidippus audax (Hentz) jumping several inches into the air in unsuccessful attempts to capture adult dragonflies overhead and on other occasions observed P. audax carrying dragonflies. Edwards (1980) presents two additional records of P. audax and P. otiosus (Hentz) capturing adult Libellulidae. Source Credit: DRAGONFLY PREDATION UPON PHIDIPPUS AUDAX (ARANEAE, SALTICIDE). 1988. The Journal of Arachnology 16:121.

Thanks to the experts on BugGuide Facebook group for identifying the spider as a type of jumping spider, probably a male Phidippus sp. The screw hole in the boardwalk — an estimated 1/4″ in diameter — provides a sense of scale.

Unknown spider

You can see the swollen pedipalps on either side of the “fangs.” That’s where the male spider carries his sperm. Also a female would have a larger abdomen to produce the eggs. Source Credit: Dennis Haines, BugGuide Facebook group.

The green areas are the fangs Dennis mentioned. Source Credit: Sandy Simpson, BugGuide Facebook group.

Unknown spider

In case you’re wondering how the close encounter turned out, let’s just say the dragonfly’s spider sense was tingling and she opted for flight rather than fight. Score one for Team Dragonflies!

I’m looking forward to using my new Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter to shoot some macro photographs of this type of spider.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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2 Responses to “Might as well jump.”

  1. Mike Powell Says:

    Cool shots, Walter, of both the dragonfly and one of my favorite kinds of spiders. I haven’t seen a hunt like this, but I have seen the aftermath of a encounter that did not turn out as well for an Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly. (https://michaelqpowell.wordpress.com/2014/05/27/spider-captures-dragonfly-the-story/)

    • waltersanford Says:

      Thanks for reminding me of your excellent time-series of photos, Mike! I had forgotten the predator in your blog post is a jumping spider. No wonder its common name is “Bold Jumping Spider!”

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