It’s amazing what you find during a standard greenhouse cleaning, and it’s even more amazing who you find. In the process of moving a growing bench, I had to clear off a shelf, and found someone I haven’t seen in a while. One and all, I’d like to introduce you to M’Nuuuurc, sole remaining diplomatic liaison from Metabilis 3, and someone who definitely appreciates a greenhouse full of terrestrial arthropods needing a bit of population control.
On a more serious basis, the jumping spider Phidippus audax, if you needed a spider in your house, is one of the best choices around. I’d never call any spider friendly, but P. audax is more likely to recognize humans as harmless to them than most others. In return, they’re completely harmless to humans, they don’t spin obtrusive webs, they actively dislike contact with human skin in any way, and they’re absolutely voracious predators. When found indoors, they’re usually feeding on such pests as silverfish and firebrats, but I’ve also seen them take down prey as large as juvenile grasshoppers. In the greenhouse, they’re always welcome, especially with dealing with insect pests, such as those aforementioned grasshoppers, that see nothing wrong with munching on pitcher plants.
But this one? I’ve viewed a lot of jumping spiders over the years, but never have I come across one this size. In many ways, I’m very glad that these spiders only bite humans in the most desperate self-defense, and that their venom doesn’t seem to have any effect on us in any case. The moment they decide to cooperate and go after larger prey, we’re in trouble.
Very interesting info! Are they solitary, or do they live in larger groups? I’m wondering if this was just some odd find or typical for your part of Texas.
This species of jumping spider is actually pretty common around here: the surprise is that this one is at least three times larger than they normally get. I don’t know if he’s that much bigger because of better food, because he survived the winter in the greenhouse and has an edge, or if he just lives well. Any way you look at it, though, I’m not complaining, and he’s welcome to stay for as long as he wants. (I’m fairly sure this one is a male, hence the masculine pronoun, but I could be wrong.)