Amorous arachnids caught on tape

Spider research at QVMAG.JPG


Valentine's Day has come and gone, but that hasn't stopped QVMAG researchers playing cupid in the name of science.

Last month, QVMAG Honorary Research Associate John Douglas set himself the goal of capturing the mating display of the male peacock jumping spider on film.

A pair of the spiders was recently collected near Cradle Mountain, offering Mr Douglas the rare chance to photograph the mating display first-hand.

Image of two live spiders being placed next to each other

QVMAG Honorary Research Associate John Douglas encouraging the mating display of a male peacock jumping spider. Image: QVMAG.

'It's very rarely that you would ever see a male peacock jumping spider performing its display,' Mr Douglas said.

'While this species, Maratus harrisi, has been observed and photographed before this is the first time they've been collected by QVMAG.

'The males have two flaps on their abdomen, which are usually folded down. But when they are attempting to woo a female, the flaps are extended presenting a very colourful display. It could be described as being a bit like peacock feathers.

'They are very tiny — only a few millimetres across — but their colours when you see them up close are rather amazing.'

Mr Douglas said working with peacock jumping spiders could be a challenge.

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A male and female peacock jumping spider. Image: QVMAG.

'They really do jump, and they quite often jump onto the camera lens when you are trying to photograph them,' he said.

'And course, you always have the problem that the females — being larger and sometimes hungrier — will eat the males, which happens quite often with spiders.'

Mr Douglas' hard work has paid off through a series of photographs and video footage of the male performing its courtship dance.


Issued Wednesday 2 March 2022.