Friggin spiders…

So, for those that don’t know, I’m a little bit infatuated with Peacock Jumping Spiders and if you don’t know what I’m talking about I suggest you quickly check out this YouTube video before reading the rest of this blog..

Today was the chosen day. Bushy (aka Dean) and I had planned this day for a couple of weeks now, the day we were going to go hunt the Maratus Gemmifer and Maratus Flavus Peacock Jumping Spiders. We did our research, identifying four sites, two sites for Gemmifer and two sites for Flavus, that are known to have these spiders, eventually settling on three locations to search. We setup and tested our cameras, installing all sorts of ‘extra bits’ to help us diffuse the flashes etc. We were ready, spiders be warned, Bushy and Rex are a coming….

Unfortunately, the day was a lot hotter than expected, maxing out at 34C, however, we were undeterred and we hoped the spiders were too. Arriving at our first Gemmifer site, we carefully combed the banksia leaves and bush for 2 hours before finally calling it a loss. We did find a couple of other spiders and some flowers etc., but not the Maratus Gemmifer we’d come to photograph. We also managed to freak out some nature loving bushwalkers who came across us, pawing through the leaf little with camera backpacks and weird looking cameras in hand as they wandered past, taking as wide a berth as possible.

Hot, sweaty but still full of youthful optimism, we pushed on to secret spot number two, this time looking for Mr Flavus.

A Hoverfly in flowers
A Hoverfly on a Blackboy stem
The only interesting spider we found at location one. Not sure what he is, but we do know he wasn’t our target Peacock Jumping Spider..
Another shot of Mr Black with Orange Dots (that’s not his official name by the way…)
A small sapling making its way through the undergrowth

Spot number two was down near Tims Thicket, south of Mandurah and with a bit of searching we found the special patch of Onion Grass and yellow flowers we knew Maratus Flavus liked, however, no Flavus’ (or is it Flavusi?) were to be found. 🙁

An old flower head
A small beetle hanging out in a flower head
Things were getting desperate and I resorted to photographing flowers.
Another Hoverfly, but I actually like the symmetry of the Blackboy stems in this shot.

The enthuse’o’meter was seriously starting to fall below 100% at this point, but we did what any loser would do when they had nothing better to do on a beautiful Sunday. We pressed on to secret spot number three for a 2nd attempt at Maratus Flavus.

Now, secret spot number three should have been a certainty as we had specific ‘spider locating instructions’ to follow from a trusted source, thanks Craig! However, an hour later we were cursing good old Craig. It was hot, we were sweaty and we still hadn’t spotted a bloody Peacock Jumping Spider.

I did manage to find a couple of new (to me) Orchids, but even that was a little disappointing, as I’d heard about, and wanted to see the Flying Duck Orchids that are known in this area, but guess what? The Duck Orchids were hanging out with the bloody spiders….

A Pink Enamel Orchid
Leopard Orchid

It was at this point that Bushy and I decided to take a bit of a breather and reconsider our lives, I mean options.. As we were only down the road from the Lake Clifton Thrombolites, we decided to drop in there for a look-see and replan. It was then it happened….

Whilst walking out along the Thrombolite viewing platform my phone rang. It was Georgia, my now dis-owned daughter. She had just gotten back from the Hillarys Dog Beach, where, while she was sitting on the beach watching the dogs play in amongst the hoards of people and animals, she felt something crawling on her leg. She looked down in trepidation, expecting to see a sandfly or marchie, but no, it was a bloody Peacock Jumping Spider, Maratus Speciosus if my identification is correct.

The Maratus Speciosus that crawled up on Georgia at the dog beach (f#cking thing…)

That was it, the final straw. Bushy and I had a choice to make. We could either head home with our tails between our legs or we could fight!

To be completely honest, at this time, it was at its hottest, 34C. We were pretty knackered and seriously considered heading north to the comforts of home, but “NO”, like StormTroopers having a bad hair day, we decided to give site four a go.

70 kms and 50 mins later, we were up in the hills, along the Perth Darling Scarp where Bushy, and our mate Craig, had previously sighted Maratus Gemmifer. I’d be lying if I said we pulled up full of hope and vigour. Rather we slid out of the car, slowly grabbed our camera gear and tried to find some shade where we could pretend to look for spiders.

Whilst hunkering in the shade, I’d just searched an area when Bushy wandered up, looked down and angels singing and religious like sounds playing, there he was. Our first, and only Peacock Jumping Spider of the day.

At first we thought we’d found our target Maratus Gemmifer, but upon inspection of the pics afterwards, I think we found Maratus Mungaich. His name doesn’t read as nicely as Gemmifer or Flavus, but we didn’t care, he was a colourful and a rather accommodating little fella, giving us around 15mins of photography time before he finally decided to head into the undergrowth.

Let me introduce the bum (abdomen) of Maratus Mungaich!
More Mr Maratus Mungaich
More Mr Maratus Mungaich
More Mr Maratus Mungaich. You can see how chilled he was, he even had time to chow down on a fly he caught whilst we were photographing him.
More Mr Maratus Mungaich
More Mr Maratus Mungaich

So, in the end our day was saved. Our hero’s returned home to reap the accolades from our respective families!

All in all, we drove 284 kms and spent about 4 hrs searching the bush in 30C plus degree heat for this one sighting of a Peacock Jumping Spider!

“Would we do it again”, I hear you ask?

Bloody oath we would! We’re suckers for a good Peacock Jumping Spider and so should you be. There’s heaps of them out there so get out and find your own!

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