Readers’ wildlife photos

Today we have not only animals, but one of my favorite natural phenomena, the aurora borealis.  The first set of photos was taken by reader Roel Wijtmans:

I send you some wildlife photographs that I took while hiking in northern Norway and Sweden last August and September. The first one is one of my favorite animals, a jumping spider, which visited me in my tent while I was sheltering for the rain (the green stuff is my towel).

Since we have spider experts in the audience, identifications would be appreciated.


UPDATE: Roel send me a side view to help with the identification:

jumping spider


The second is actually semi-wildlife (they are owned by the Sami, but allowed to roam freely most of the time), some reindeer that visited me one evening when I had just put up my tent.

The Sami were formerly known as “Lapps.”


And since I’ve been reading your website (!) for many years, I know about your fascination with the aurora, so I attached a couple of those as well.



Some day I must see this!


Finally, we have a moth and a caterpillar from reader Rodger Atkin.  The caterpillar is unidentified:

The moth looks like an Oleander hawk moth (Daphnis nerii); the caterpillar I have no idea.

JAC: it certainly looks like that species, and it’s one of the most beautiful of all lepidopterans.

Oleander Hawk-moth Daphnis nerii

This could be a caterpillar of the same moth; readers can help here.



  1. aljoc
    Posted November 29, 2014 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    The last photo is indeed the caterpillar of the same moth.

  2. Diana MacPherson
    Posted November 29, 2014 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    What a sweet looking little spider. I like hopping spiders. Some of them can grow quite large here too (for hopping spiders).

    The moth looks like it was made out of paper. Really pretty. I’ve never seen one like that.

    Lovely northern lights photos too. I haven’t caught aurora for a few years. Every time there is a CME, it is either overcast here or I forget about it. As a child, I saw amazing aurora similar to these examples when camping up north. I have a friend from India who is obsessed with seeing aurora & didn’t realize that we could see it in Canada. I would like to see it in Scandinavia though. A trip for the future perhaps.

    • Posted November 29, 2014 at 9:29 am | Permalink

      I’ve seen some pretty nice ones north of Toronto – auroras, that is. Diana, you can keep the jumping spiders in your neighborhood:-). Actually saw a great one in Speyside ( on the property of the friend who had to resort to dynamiting the beavers)and even in my own backyard ( until Oakville Hydro put up a huge neon sign across the highway.)
      Beautiful photos, Roel!!

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted November 29, 2014 at 9:36 am | Permalink

        I’ve taken aurora pictures from my backyard as well. Saw them one night without expecting them. The view north is often tricky though – a lot of light pollution.

  3. Posted November 29, 2014 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    The hawk moth is gorgeous. Reminds me of my mom’s blouses in the 70’s.

    Is that pattern thought to be a trompe l’œiel? I see a scary face.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted November 29, 2014 at 8:20 am | Permalink

      Ha! I see the scary face now too, but faces are everywhere!

    • Diane G.
      Posted November 29, 2014 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

      Those spots at the top of each wing sure look like eye spots, but the last place an insect would want those would be on either side of the thorax!

      The more I look at it, the more it looks like a fish face.

  4. Posted November 29, 2014 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    I wish I could tell you more than “jumping spider.” I’m not good at IDing spiders, and there are more than 5000 species. But if you google “swedish jumping spiders” you’ll come to a gallery of some that are IDed. Just found out they’re called “hoppspindlar” in Swedish–I like that.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted November 29, 2014 at 8:25 am | Permalink

      I googled Ontario hopping spiders as I wanted to see the kinds that are here. I found this really neat site & now I know that the name is “diamond-backed jumper” for the big ones I see here in the summer.

    • Posted November 29, 2014 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

      Hyppyhämähäkit in Finnish!

  5. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted November 29, 2014 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Yes, that is the caterpillar of the Oleandar hawk moth.
    The spider is a jumping spider, family Salticidae. It is a nice picture, but I cannot ID it beyond suggesting it is a female.

    • aljoc
      Posted November 29, 2014 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      It looks like a male to me – the palps are larger in the males and look like boxing gloves. They are used to transfer sperm to the female during sex.

      • Mark Sturtevant
        Posted November 29, 2014 at 9:48 am | Permalink

        Well, dang, you are right. I thought for some reason that those were furry chelicerae.

  6. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted November 29, 2014 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Funny, the wildlife doesn’t seem so wild, or at least exotic, to me. But the aurora shots were magnificent!

    The Sami were formerly known as “Lapps.”

    Here is a place to tread carefully.

    FWIW. the northernmost administrative region is still called “Lappland” for historical reasons.

    But one could similarly say that Romani were formerly known as “Gypsies”. It isn’t their chosen label and it has been used as racial slur.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted November 29, 2014 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      I found this too:

      The very origin of the term may have been a slur or at least (intentionally or unintentionally) been easily adopted as one.

      “From Swedish lapp. This in turn originally possibly an extension of the meaning “patch” (in reference to poorness), or from Finnish lape (“periphery”) (in reference to geography).”

      [ ]

      • Posted November 29, 2014 at 11:13 am | Permalink

        …in other words, Sami s it ever was….


  7. Jacques Hausser
    Posted November 29, 2014 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Could the jumping spider be a Sitticus floricola? Several pictures on the web show this kind of reddish mask around the eyes.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted November 29, 2014 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      Hmm, that does look a lot like it.

  8. Curtis
    Posted November 29, 2014 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    The spider looks like a Dolomedes. AKA fishing spider.

    • Jacques Hausser
      Posted November 29, 2014 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      No, it is not a Dolomedes. When you look at this jumping spider (family Salticidae) in front view you have these two enornous eyes, and each side of them one smaller one (they are more eyes laterally, but not well visible in front view).
      When you look at a Dolomedes (family Pisauridae) in front view you have an upper row of four eyes, the central ones being larger, but not enormous, and a lower row of four equally sized eyes. And all these eyes are far smaller, relatively to the animal’s size, than in Salticids.
      The eyes of Salticids are really fantastic, they can move in their head better thsn our ones, allowing to focuse and precisely measure distances by telemetry. Useful when you catch your preys by jumbing on them!

  9. Jacques Hausser
    Posted November 29, 2014 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    by jumPing…

  10. Heather Hastie
    Posted November 29, 2014 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Great pics as always.

    I too am a sucker for the aurora borealis, and have always wanted to see it for real. I’m hundreds of kilometres too far north for the southern lights too, so have never seen them in the flesh either.

  11. Roel Wijtmans
    Posted November 29, 2014 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Since I don’t know how to post a picture, I’ve sent another photo of the spider to Jerry, which he will post. The quality is not too great, but it shows the side of the spider which might help with the identification.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted November 29, 2014 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      If the picture is already on the internet, you can post the link to the web page. In case you do not know the code for that (I did not, once upon a time) you can find the string of characters here.

  12. Mark R.
    Posted November 29, 2014 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for all the lovely photos. That is one cool moth and caterpillar.

    Spectacular Aurora pics. I’ve seen it once before, but it was much fainter than the photos shown here.

    I’m guessing the lighter colored reindeer are juveniles. And if so, they have surprisingly large antlers.

    • Roel Wijtmans
      Posted November 29, 2014 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

      I’m not 100 % sure, but I actually don’t think it has to do with age. I’ve seen several juveniles which were dark as well, so I think it’s just something that varies individually.

  13. Neil Faulkner
    Posted November 29, 2014 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    The best match for the salticid in Dick Jones’ Country Life Guide to European spiders is Evarcha falcata, noted as common and widespread throughout the region covered by the book (which includes Scandinavia). Can’t say I’ve ever seen one myself which is a pity coz it’s a pretty little critter.

  14. Mark Joseph
    Posted November 29, 2014 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    An excellent set of pictures. Thank you!

  15. Diane G.
    Posted November 29, 2014 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

    What a great batch of pictures! Roel, you are a wonderful photographer.

    And your subject matter is so pleasing; aside from being a fan of both the creepy-crawlies and the cosmos, I love to think about the humongous differences in scale they represent.

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