Of all the different species of spiders, Phidippus audax is my favorite. Now you may wonder why a black spider with white spots would be my favorite species when there are much more colorful species of jumpers like Phidippus cardinalis or Phidippus apacheanus. My answer would be because P. audax comes in many different forms and has a huge distribution range. It's actually quite amazing that individuals of a single species could look so different from one another.
Most of us are familiar with what a P. audax typically looks like.
Here's a good image of a typical adult female.
Now lets look at some more colorful individuals.
Here's a P. audax bryantae variation.
The colored scales along the sides of the abdomen is the distinguishing characteristic of the bryantae variation. Notice that it has a few colored scales on the top of the carapace between the posterior eyes.
Here's another example of the bryatae variation, but this one has a band completely across the carapace. The area on the top of the carapace between the the four posterior eyes is known as the ocular quadrangle, or the OQ.
Then there's this one from California with quite a band connecting the posterior lateral eyes.
This gorgeous jumper from Texas has it all.
All of these that we've looked at so far have been immature P. audax, so do they still have this carapace marking at the adult stage?
This one from Washington certainly appears to be an adult female with the leftover marking across the top of the carapace.
This one from Texas appears to be an adult female.
We also have this beauty from Colorado that is a possible adult female but is at least a sub-adult. Notice the band completely across the carapace.
I've seen hundreds of P. audax from the southeastern U.S., and I've never seen them with this band across the top of the carapace as sub-adults.
Here's a P. audax from North Florida that I once had. The North Florida population is some of the most colorful and variable individuals that you'll ever see, but from my experience, you won't see the carapace mark across the ocular quadrangle.
Sometimes the spots are completely fused together.
Now let's take a look at a juvenile from California that I believe may be a P. audax bryantae form. The carapace color is extraordinary. These from California are tricky though. This could possibly be one of those red California species.
This reminds me of P. regius males. We used to think that P. regius males were always black with white markings, but we now know that this is not always the case.