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The Variable jumper Phidippus audax

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 at the sub-adult stage. 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.

Sometimes I wonder
that if all spiders looked like Jumpers, people wouldn't be freaking out afraid, they would be squealing as children do when seeing a kitten or a puppy. These spiders are just so darn adorable. They look up at you with intelligent eyes and you get the feeling they understand how interesting they are to us, then they wave and jump away.

Don . . . this is an excellent
and useful resource. I have added a link from my P. audax page.

I think i have seen some of t
I think i have seen some of these here in Europe.But i could be wrong.Sorry for not providing pics.I don't have my camera with me.Jumping spiders are rear in most of my country,but in the past 3 years i think their numbers started to raise up.Now they are much more easy to find. :)

Macedonia Spider FB page

The Variable jumper Phidippus audax
Nice collection of images. I linked this topic to the info page for the species.

Phidippus audax
I agree, P. audax is extremely variable. Part of the variation is age-related. Here in Ohio most of our individuals are the "typical" form you show in your first photo of an adult female. The earlier instars here have the orange dorsal central spot on the abdomen, and sometimes cream or yellow-orange in very young individuals. When these (at least some that I've raised) molt into adults, they resemble the "typical" form. Males are far more colorful, with heavier whitish setation. GB Edwards has a nice treatment of the variation in his monograph. He too mentions that "Juveniles frequently have orange abdominal spots which turn white at maturity,..."

Absolutely. The loss of the orange color is what typically happens as they mature. What's special about the North Florida population is that many of the individuals retain this orange color as adults.

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