Two Spiders, a Beetle, and a Caterpillar

Shaken from a tarp at Take Off (bungee exhibit), this wolf spider rushes off to cover at the base of a nearby shrub.

The spider in the above photo had found what it thought was a safe and secure hideout, in a tarp that covers the winch at the Take Off in Catch the Wind.

Spiders can be identified as to family, and sometimes to genus, by the arrangement of their multiple eyes, that is, where the eyes sit on their head (most spiders have eight eyes).

Note a row of four small eyes just above the “upper lip” of this spider. Above the four eyes are two larger eyes, and above those, and set a bit farther apart, are two more large eyes.

The above spider is definitely a wolf spider (Lycosidae) but I wasn’t able to go any further in naming it as to species. It may be a Carolina Wolf Spider (Hogna carolinensis). If you know for sure what species this spider is, please let me know.

While inspecting the dogbane out in front of the Lemur House for interesting insects that might have happened along, a small jumping spider ran out in front of me on one of the leaves.

Jumping spiders are easily recognized as jumping spiders by their small size and distinctive shape. They look a bit like tiny bull dogs with their big heads (cephalothorax – head and thorax combined), large “muscular” front legs and small hindquarters.

A Jumping Spider sidles up to the edge of a dogbane leaf.

Another thing that makes jumping spiders more obvious to the casual observer is the fact that they are very animated and flexible. They seem articulated, bending at the joint (pedicel) between the cephalothorax and the abdomen.

This jumper (Thiodina sylvana) gets its bearings before leaping down to the next leaf.

Jumping spiders seem fearless, hopping from leaf to leaf, fence post to shrub, even walking along a curious naturalists arm with little apprehension (on the spider’s part, at least). They are typically very colorful, many showing brilliant iridescence. They’re worth a close look, you may be surprised at how beautiful they can be.

While at the dogbane patch I was also able to spot several Dogbane Leaf Beetles (Chrysochus auratus).

High-stepping it over the leaf, this beetle is probably seeking a mate.


Two days ago, Emmett, one of the “Floor to Canopy” Summer Campers here at the Museum picked up a small moth caterpillar. I’d seen this caterpillar before but couldn’t remember its name. A quick look through “Caterpillars of Eastern North America” and I was reminded that it was a Variable Oakleaf Caterpillar (Lochmaeus manteo).

The caterpillar walking off the stem of a dead, white oak leaf and onto my desk.

Good spot Emmett.

5 responses to Two Spiders, a Beetle, and a Caterpillar

  1. Georgia says:

    I’m an amateur naturalist and would thoroughly enjoy your blog. I do research for a Naturalist at Waterman Conservation Group, Apalachin, NY

  2. Kimberly says:

    Awesome spider pics Greg! Spiders are greatly under-appreciated. And jumping spiders are just the cutest!

    • Greg Dodge says:

      I agree, jumping spiders are pretty cool little animals. And yes, I’d go as far as to say that they are cute, but I’m glad I’m not the same size that they are.
      Thanks Kimberly,

  3. LarryB says:

    Great pics Greg! I used to see that same type wolf spider in my garage all the time and made the same taxanomic guess.

    • Greg Dodge says:

      I guess that if I caught the spider and had a closer look at it, checked out its feet and a few other parts of its body, I could tell you for sure. I think that it’s in the same genus though (Hogna). Unless someone out there can enlighten me?
      Thanks LarryB,

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