Small Package - Big Punch (Aelurillus v-insignitus)
The main character of this story is a Jumping Spider called Aelurillus v-insignitus. It is widespread on sandy, rocky subsoil with scarce vegetation throughout Central Europe. Here it hunts and reproduces already from April onwards. The courtship behaviour displayed by the Jumping Spider is very fascinating and rarely seen.
The little male, which is four to six millimetres small, is marked by the eponymous feature: a bright V-shaped sign above its eyes. Strictly speaking, it actually should be called Aelurillus duo-v-insignitus, the "double-V-marked", as the male has two bright V-signs on its forehead that are clearly recognizable.
The female is five to seven millimetres big and grey and black spotted, thus being excellently disguised in the habitat this spider genus lives in.
Very often, it stays well disguised in a hiding-place between little stones or, like you can see on the right-hand side, under a leaf.
The characteristics of jumping spiders
The physical features of the spider dwarf already reveal some details about its way of life. It is provided with a total of eight eyes of which the two main eyes on its front are parallel to one another and remarkably large. It does not need those eyes in order to spin cobwebs and to ambush prey that gets caught up in it and is completely committed to its captor. Those large forward-facing eyes are rather an excellent means of recognizing movements and assessing distances. And those two optical qualities are exactly the factors the spider's hunting success depends on. Either it remains motionless in its hiding-place as a sit-and-wait predator until it spots a potential prey by its movement .....
..... like on this photo showing the spider between the opened scales of a pine cone lying on the ground .....
..... or on the blossoms of plants whose nectar lures insects which in turn are an attractive prey to the spider.
Or, as a stalking predator, it searches the environment for tasty small animals.
Especially about noon the sun intensely heats up the stony or sandy immature soil. When the spider is not able to bear the radiating heat any longer, it gets up on its tiptoes so that the air can circulate below its body. Thus it provides itself a welcome cooling.
If it has spotted a prey, it slowly stalks it. During this process, it takes advantage of its two parallel main eyes on the front: those two eyes are an excellent means of assessing distances. Now it approaches the animal so far as it is able to overleap the last intermediate space - thus its jump completely surprises its prey.
Here (see photo on the right-hand side) the female Aelurillus v-insignitus has overcome another little spider and quickly killed it with a bite.
So the picture report continues:
- Hunting strategy of the male
- The spectacular courtship dance of the male
- Oviposition, nest and eggs of the female
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