Catching Up on Backyard Critters, 06-06-22

Jumping spiders are among my favorites; especially this one. I love the male’s fuzzy “mittens”. This is a Hairy Jumping Spider, Menemerus semilimbatus, that I found on the side of the pole that holds up one of the large umbrellas in the backyard. The male Hairy Jumping Spiders have bright white pedipalps, and wave them around like flags in front of their face.  So, I quick got some video and photos of this spider with my cellphone before it ran off. 

According to Wikipedia: “…Pedipalps of spiders have the same segmentation as the legs, but the tarsus is undivided, and the pretarsus has no lateral claws. Pedipalps contain sensitive chemical detectors and function as taste and smell organs, supplementing those on the legs. In sexually mature male spiders, the final segment of the pedipalp, the tarsus, develops a complicated structure (sometimes called the palpal bulb or palpal organ) that is used to transfer sperm to the female seminal receptacles during mating. The details of this structure vary considerably between different groups of spiders and are useful for identifying species. The pedipalps are also used by male spiders in courtship displays, contributing to vibratory patterns in web-shaking, acoustic signals, or visual displays…”

The spider was back a few days later, but this time she was eating a Genista Broom Moth!

Love these guys: the Bold Jumping Spider, Phidippus audax.

“…Like other jumping spiders, due to their large, forward-facing eyes, they have excellent stereoscopic vision. This aids them when stalking prey, and facilitates visual communication with potential mates during courting… The species name is derived from the Latin word audax meaning ‘daring, audacious’… The chelicerae (mouthparts) are a bright, metallic green or blue…”

While watching a bunch of aphids infesting one of the rose bushes in the backyard, I noticed a squiggly maggoty-looking guy in among the hoard. I think it’s the larva (maggot) of some kind of hoverfly. (Family Syrphidae), and took a few photos of it to post to iNaturalist (hoping for some kind of confirmation)

According to the University of Wisconsin: “…Hover flies can be effective in suppressing aphid populations in gardens and mixed plots. They will be most noticeable in the latter half of the growing season, usually after aphid infestations are established. Because they are not as conspicuous as lady beetle adults or larvae they may not be given credit for the effect they have on aphid colonies… Female [flies] lay tiny white eggs singly on leaves or shoots near or among aphid colonies. The larvae that hatch in two to three days are small legless maggots that range in color from creamy-white to green or brown. They look somewhat slug-like and are tapered towards the head. The larvae feed on aphids or other insects and move around on the plants in search of prey. The larvae complete their development in two to three weeks while consuming up to 400 aphids each…” Cool!

And here are a few more critters from the yard.