If you live in Thailand you want these. Well, if you live anywhere, you want these.
This spiffy jumping spider has been living in my room for a couple weeks or more. I think most people would kill it, or, as I usually do, transfer it outside. But, somewhat selfishly, I thought, “if you can find enough to eat, you’re welcome to stay”.
The spider appears on the wall above my headboard. It’s true that if it happens to hop onto my bed or even my pillow, and I lay on it or roll over on it, it will bite me in a last ditch effort to free itself from being squashed. Jumping spiders, unlike their web-building cousins, hunt using their site and pounce on their prey, so they have excellent eyes and can see in nearly 360 degress. If you encounter one they will often back up, while looking up at you with their front two legs raised. So, I’m hoping the thing is alert enough to avoid getting squashed by a giant, lumbering human. In any case, its bite wouldn’t be that bad.
A little research and I find this is a tropical jumping spider, Plexippus paykulli, which is often found inside human dwellings, where it consumes a wide range of bugs, including mosquitoes and small cockroaches. They aren’t very big at 8-12 mm in length (less than a half inch) but they can take down prey twice their size through sheer agility and brute force.
“In a building where the only available prey were German cockroaches, Blatella germanica, the spiders not only survived but also bred on this monophagous diet. They are able to successfully kill prey twice their own size. Large arthropods are injected with venom but are usually overpowered by brute strength before the venom has immobilized them” [Wikipedia].
I see the spider most every day, and especially at night, which seemed odd because I thought they liked sunlight, but the research above has shown me otherwise. Right now it is out of site somewhere. Apparently they build nests to retreat into during their down time. Last night I took a picture of it, and indeed it has expanded it’s girth a bit since it first appeared. If it were emaciating, I’d set it free. But as it turns out, it is free where it wants to be hunting in my hotel room.
This is all a bit symbolic of a new paradigm shift with nature. Some things, like ancient Chinese rice terraces, which worked in communion with nature (such as incorporating eels into the water), have not been beaten by modern technological methods. Farmers are discovering that leaving a portion of their land to go wild, also allows natural predators to effectively consume the pests that conventional pesticides are proving inefficient at killing and dangerous to humans. The way forward for technology, on a large scale, appears to be to realign with and reincorporate nature, as opposed to assuming some technological feat of purely artificial means will come along to triumph over nature, and in so doing solve whichever problem is most dire.
A half dozen years ago I stayed in a temple in Bangkok for ten days to study meditation. As a “meditator” I had to perform chores, including doing dishes, sweeping, serving food, and keeping the giant ugly ass flying roaches off of the high-ranking monk’s food. Despite the best efforts of the nuns, who did most the work while the monks were free to devote themselves to spiritual and financial causes, the giant roaches were always lurking.
At the same time, I noticed very few house geckos, and none of the larger Tokay geckos which will actually eat aforementioned giant ugly roaches. If the Tokays were around, one would hear them at night making their “Tokay” calls. I don’t know what happened to the lizards. Maybe the temple had cats, and I can’t tell if my memory is tricking me now, through the power of suggestion, to conjuring vague memories of cats or not. Now I think they might have had cats in order to rid the temple of lizards, but, again, could be my memory playing tricks on me. The point is that a healthy gecko population might have kept the roaches under control. One could have ended up with a half dozen or so large geckos, and only the occasional roach sighting.
A sort of loose rule to keep in mind as a distinct possibility is: “when possible let nature take care of it’s own problems”.
So, if a voracious spider wants to make a home in my room, and it’s hunting down mosquitoes, fruit flies, baby roaches, moths… I’m just fine with that.
And I like the spider. It’s also a “her”, which I know because she doesn’t have the conspicuous white stripe the males have. No I haven’t named her. Feel free to suggest a name.
Finally, if you find these in your home, consider what they eat, and that they don’t even make webs, before putting them outside or killing them. Americans, grieve not, they are already established in Florida and Texas.
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