Sparkling Spiders

 

Most people who’ve lived in Thailand will be able to tell you horror stories of how a massive spider jumped out on them when they went to the toilet or sprung out from under something in their house. Despite Thailand being home to some truly enormous and terrifying spiders it is also home to a myriad of smaller beautiful spiders, specifically the jumping spiders. This post will be about one species of these spectacular spiders.

The species of jumping spider I’m referring to is, Phintella Vittata. They have  a truly magnificent colouration that on a sunny day sparkles like glitter on the leaves of the plants that they inhabit.

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I often see these magnificent arachnids dotted on the leaves of the plants just outside our front door.

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These spiders not only have amazing colourations but they also have a pretty incredible courtship ritual that involves reflecting Ultraviolet (UV) light at each other. It was previously thought that animals could only detect UVA light. Only recently have scientists began to discover animals that can recognise light in the UVB range; and Phintella Vittata is one of these species.

A group of scientists in China discovered that the amazing  metallic bands that cover their bodies are not only beautiful but they also serve to reflect UV light. The bands reflect UVB light only and females are attracted to males that can reflect the most UVB light.

They placed a male spider in with a female spider and allowed him to strut his stuff and show off his UVB reflections. Then they did the same thing but in a box where the UVB light was filtered (his signals became invisible) and they found that 80% of the female spider preferred males from the first box.

I imagine their experiments were similar to being in a nightclub at the end of the night when the lights come on and you get a good hard look at who you’ve been dancing with all night!

If you’d like to read an article about these experiments and their results here’s a link to the full article from National Geographic Sexy jumping spiders court females with ultraviolet patches

 

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