I was driving along with the windows open (air conditioner is broken) and saw what looked like a small wad of black and white lint “blow” up onto the dashboard, in the sun, and skid around in the breeze. On closer inspection, it turned out to be a good-sized jumping spider—Phidippus audax—a full-grown one, looked like.
These guys are my very favorite arachnids. They’re so willing to interact—and their vision is spectacular, so they react to your tiniest movement. This little gal was SO hot—the air temperature was 94 and it must have been 125 degrees on that dash! She kept hopping around, looking for a cooler spot.
I didn’t want to leave her in the car, so I pulled over to try to figure out how to capture her. In the meantime, she disappeared down the dashboard toward my right leg. Worse yet, even if I could find her again, I didn’t have any container in which to try to catch her.
But I tell you, that spider’s guardian angel must have been working overtime. What I did have was an open, insulated glass of ice water sitting next to my seat. And wonder of wonders, when I looked down, the spider was dangling from her dragline, all eight feet spread wide in the air. I picked up the glass, moved it under her, and voila! Spider on ice!
She was pretty shocked by the temperature change. She “froze” for a couple of seconds, then began moving v..e..r..y …. s..l..o..w..l..y on tiptoes over the top of the ice cubes, and that gave me plenty of time to get out of the car and deposit her in the grass next to an open field.
I smiled all the way home.
Photo credit: Phidippus audax by Kaldari, from Wikipedia