Saturday, 19 May 2012

Leap in conte crayon

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is sight. And it might seem a bit of a stretch for even an arachnophile (hey, if there are 'phobes it stands to reason that there are 'philes as well, right?) like me to be able to use a spider for the word sight, but it'll make sense if you bear with me.

It's true that most spiders don't have very good vision. For your average orb weaver sitting and waiting in a web for the tell-tale vibrations of a trapped bug, there's really not much need for sight. Not all spiders are web hunters, though.

As their name suggests, the Jumping Spiders (Salticidae) hunt by jumping at their prey. They'll sneak up as close as they can without disturbing an insect, attach a safety-line of silk in case they miss, and then literally take a flying leap onto their dinner.

It's not a blind leap, either. Jumping spiders have some of the best sight of any invertebrate group. You have to, if you're going to be accurate enough in your jumping to survive. It leads to some interesting interactions with their environment, as well. Jumping spiders tend to act as though they're interested in what's going on around them (they probably are...) and will often inconveniently turn around to face the camera lens when a nerd like me is trying to get a good shot of them. It can be fun, though, too. I've been known to tease the tiny Zebra Jumpers that occasionally show up in the office with the tip of my pen. Who says you can't play with spiders?

For anyone who's not phobic, there's some pretty neat footage of a hunting jumping spider here. Get a load of those eyes.


This sketch is pretty loose and scribbly, but it's not bad considering that I'm still getting over a wrist sprain. Do you have any idea how often we use our wrists in a day? I certainly do after these past few weeks. I might have liked to have added a bit more detail in the picture, but things started getting a little wobbly so I thought I'd better put the brace back on. Things are coming along, though. Maybe next week I'll even get brave enough to pick up a pen instead of a crayon.

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