Readers’ wildlife photographs

The readers came through with more photos for me, so please hold off with further photo contributions until after New Year when I return. Today’s arthropod photo odyssey comes from reader Mark Sturtevant, whose words are indented.

The first two pictures are of one of the large jumping spiders that I can generally pick up from my shed. This is the tan jumperPlatycryptus undatus. The name refers to the flattened shape which allows it to hide under things. These spiders are fairly mellow for a Salticid, and so are pretty easy to catch and work with.


The next two pictures are of another common jumping spider with a decidedly different personality. This is of course the bold jumping spider (Phidippus audax), a species that is pretty familiar to anyone in the U.S. This handsome male was living in a watering can on our front porch, and it would always dash into the spout when I would try to retrieve it for pictures. As is typical of its kind, it was not in the least interested in sitting still, but the ‘ol give-them-a-fly trick works every time.

Temporarily moving on to a different spider family, we see in the next picture a rather warty looking crab spider. This looks to be in the genus Xysticus, according to overall appearance, proportions of the legs, and various features of the carapace and front legs that are shown and described in the amazing web site known as BugGuide.

More jumping spiders are in the next two pictures. This lovely but very small species is Tutelina elegans. I had seen a couple of these in the early summer in my #2 favorite park. This is a female, and I’m on the lookout for a male which is shown in the link.


The next two pictures are of luna moth caterpillars (Actias luna). The story behind this is that we have a local ‘nature’ store that sometimes has batches of caterpillars of various kinds for the kiddies (and for me, of course). It’s from here that I got my start raising Saturniids. Last summer they had a large batch of young luna moth caterpillars, and so I bought some. This species is very easy to raise, but these were being fed on hickory leaves which is not a tree that I have used before. So I scouted around and found a nice neighbor with a hickory tree and she let me drop by regularly to gather fresh leaves for my brood. In these pictures I was trying to record the fact that these juicy little (well, not so little) gummy worms are fairly translucent. When slightly backlit with the sun one can see their slowly pulsing gut. I don’t think I succeeded showing that here, but the colors are still pretty striking.

The larvae made their cocoons at about mid-summer, but unfortunately they all eclosed to adults while I was dragged away on a vacation. They were then in the care of a friend, but when I returned, the moths, which do not feed, had all eclosed and were either too old or too dead to photograph. I will have to try again some other time, as I’ve never photographed the adults of this species. 

Finally, I add a weird Hemipteran which is a long-necked seed bug (Myodocha annulicornis). These insects are common pests on strawberries.



  1. Stephen Barnard
    Posted December 12, 2017 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Very cool photos and descriptions.

  2. Heather Hastie
    Posted December 12, 2017 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Great pics Mark! I especially love the gummy bears. Good luck with getting the moths next time. 🙂

  3. Jenny Haniver
    Posted December 12, 2017 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Yeah, these are very cool photos and very cool beasties.

  4. Debbie Coplan
    Posted December 12, 2017 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Fascinating and very impressive photos.

  5. rickflick
    Posted December 12, 2017 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Another delightful reminder that crawling around on your knees can be as rewarding now as when we were 3.

  6. Posted December 12, 2017 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    As always, great photos and interesting comments.

  7. Posted December 12, 2017 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Thanks, everybody! There is a lot more in the line-up.

  8. Mark R.
    Posted December 12, 2017 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyed these, thanks! I don’t think I’ve encountered a “metallic” jumping spider. The gummy worms do look transparent. Dip them in sugar, yummy.

  9. nicky
    Posted December 12, 2017 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Yes, beautiful photographs. They help one in times of distress. Thanks.

  10. Michael Scullin
    Posted December 12, 2017 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Amazing how much the tan jumper looks like David Letterman these days.

    We are very spider friendly here and keep a plastic glass and card handy to exile those who become pests. In the winter they are exiled into the garage because there is always, all seasons, something to eat there.

    We are partial to jumping spiders, but we had a handsome wolf spider living in a crack at the bottom of the cellar stairs all summer long.

  11. tjeales
    Posted December 12, 2017 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Wow just beautiful. I love the Tan Jumper, four forward facing eyes, what an expression. That seed bug is weird as heck too. Always enjoy your photos

  12. Mark Joseph
    Posted December 12, 2017 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    Completely awesome photos, dude. Thanks!

  13. ratabago
    Posted December 13, 2017 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    Great photos Mark. I’m eager to see the rest of the line-up.

  14. Stephen Barnard
    Posted December 13, 2017 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    The luna moth caterpillar photos are beautifully lit. Do you actually feed flies to jumping spiders? Amazing.

%d bloggers like this: