By Larry Lindner. A sunny day in the garden must have smelled like heaven to the Red backed jumping spider that my wife found, now dancing to the rhythm of her screams. She tried to keep it from escaping the cover of our hot tub, while those screams I’m exaggerating about tugged hard for my attention. I eventually burst out the kitchen through the screen door to find her wanting to share this jewel she had found.
“It’s a batman spider,” she said.
“A what?” I said.
All I could see was a black spider with some red on it, but it was moving around so fast I couldn’t focus on it.
“Just look at it,” she said. “It’s got little triangle ears and eyes and a face and it’s just beautiful!”
I just couldn’t see it. Stan Lee (creator of Spider-Man) and Bob Cole (creator of Batman) got together and designed a spider? It wasn’t making sense. “It’s just a spider,” I said.
“No, look at it,” she insisted. “It’s like a perfect bat man! It’s got eyes and hands and feet. Just look at it!”
I knew I wasn’t going to see it but I made another effort. The spider must have been blessed with a helping of The Flash. It looked like a cluster of ten blurry spiders.
“Okay, keep it there,” I said. “I’ll grab my camera!”
But keeping it there got it killed. Accidentally. Regretfully.
Apparently, while alive, its mouth had been opening and closing and looked pretty big. Vicious even.
After dealing with the ant, I put the spider on a sheet of paper and took about a hundred photos from various angles.
I’ve included two for this column.
The first shows what my wife was talking about.
It’s the back end of the spider. You can see a red background with the ‘bat man’ standing there. He’s got those two black triangles for ears, two yellow eyes, a face, two yellow hands and below them, two yellow feet. He’s standing on a pedestal. She was right; it’s very cool.
The second photo shows the front of the spider. You can’t miss the two eyes in the centre of the head. You might notice two additional eyes, one to each side of the main eyes; and then two more eyes, one to each side of those! All jumping spiders have eight eyes… and six are visible in this photo.
Now I don’t know for sure that this is a female Red backed jumping spider, but that’s the best guess I could make after an hour or so on Google. Apparently, their eyesight is phenomenal. And there’s at least 45 kinds of jumping spiders in British Columbia and maybe 5,000 in the world. That’s a lot of spiders!
Who knows, maybe this is an undiscovered variety of spider resident only to our backyard. It may not be, but we believe it’s the best looking jumping spider this side of heaven!
Larry Lindner is a graphic designer and former photo-journalist in the Okanagan, working at weekly newspapers in Keremeos and Osoyoos; and at a radio station in Penticton. He was editor for the Princeton Spotlight before switching to design. He started publishing a literary magazine called Tickled by Thunder in 1990 and is currently an avid nature photographer, specializing in birds.