Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat!

I stepped into the garage yesterday afternoon to fetch a pair of shoes I’d left out there.  I’d worn them during a recent walk and had returned with them covered in mud, so I left them in the garage to dry out.

The moment I stepped through the door, I noticed something odd about the antenna on my car.  Keep in mind I’d driven it hundreds of miles over the weekend as I journeyed to and from the family farm.  Knowing that, I suspected I was looking at some poor insect smashed against the vehicle at high speed, but this one happened to get hung up on the antenna instead of embedded in the front grill.

I opened the garage door to get a better look.  As I approached the rear of the car, however, the dark lump turned to follow my movements.

A male regal jumping spider (Phidippus regius) clinging to my car's antenna (184_8451)

Aha!  Whatever it might be, it certainly wasn’t dead.

I could see immediately that it was a spider of some kind.  To be quite honest, it was a large spider, perhaps the size of a quarter, and it crouched down to move but would prop itself up to look at me.

The closer I got, the further in the opposite direction it would move.

And so began the chase.  It scampered across the surface of the car while I scrambled around it trying to snap photos.

As if to provide me with a reason to laugh, each time I got too near it would turn, lift its front up, and look directly at me.

A male regal jumping spider (Phidippus regius) staring at me (183_8396)

With it facing me directly as if challenging me to make the first move, I was able to see it more clearly and finally recognized it as a male regal jumping spider (Phidippus regius).

It would then turn and scurry away as if satisfied I did not intend to pounce upon it.  And as it went, so did I in hot pursuit.

A male regal jumping spider (Phidippus regius) scampering across the car (184_8421)

Repeatedly I would attempt to get in close for a macro shot, and repeatedly it would turn, sit up, and look at me directly.  There was to be no sneaking up on this little predator.

A male regal jumping spider (Phidippus regius) closely watching me as I snap a photo (184_8458)

The whole scene must have looked terribly ridiculous.  I ran in circles around the car sitting in the garage, and all the while I snapped photo after photo of what appeared to be nothing more than a dirty automobile.

From my perspective, though, it was nothing as mundane as that.  I was rather enjoying the chase and finding great humor in the spider’s ability to outmaneuver me at every turn, not to mention its apparent sixth-sense skill at knowing precisely where I was even as it tried to make its escape.

A male regal jumping spider (Phidippus regius) trying to get away from me and my camera (184_8459)

We eventually made our way around to the moonroof where it quickly retreated to the center of the car.  From there, it had a perfect vantage from which to watch me carefully, and it could easily escape in any direction based on where I went.

But, alas, the spider owes me a debt of gratitude.  By chasing it to that position, I put it within striking range of a meal, one which neither of us even knew was there when our little hide-and-seek game began.  In fact, I thought the tiny speck was nothing more than dirt from the road trip.  But then it moved…  And the spider saw it.

When he started hunting his prey, I stopped bothering him.  I didn’t want to interfere with food time.

It was fascinating to watch it sneak up, size up, and finally attack and eat the little bug that found itself in the wrong place at the wrong time.  It was too dark to capture any video of the event, although I certainly tried.

And once the meal was done…  Well, that’s when I decided to leave the guy alone and let him finish mopping up whatever hitchhikers remained on the car.

A male regal jumping spider (Phidippus regius) in natural light as it stares at me from atop the car (184_8426)

4 thoughts on “Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat!”

  1. LOL! That’s about right. And I kept expecting him to jump on the camera when he’d turn and face me like that. I’m surprised he never did.

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