Sunday, June 10, 2012

Adventures in Spider Misidentification: Strife or Pearl?

Balloon Flower in balloon stage with male jumping spider
Rain is a drag, especially on weekends, but rainy periods are good for gardens and excellent for transplanting. Unfortunately, the Home Bug Gardener doesn't like getting wet and absolutely cringes at the thought of black clay mud. Thus, a certain discord reigns during extended rainy periods. Yes, I just disposed of my disposable income on perennials to replace those that died this winter. Yes, now is a perfect time to plant them out. No, I don't want to get any damper and muddier than I am now. Ergo, I offer a spider that may be an Eris CL Koch, 1846, apparently named for the Greek Goddess of Strife and Discord.
Perhaps the spider of Military Strife?
My best guess is that this ballon-flower-perching male jumping spider is Eris militaris (Hentz, 1845). It looks about right and the species is known from Alberta. However, there is another genus of Salticidae, Pelegrina, that looks very similar, especially P. exigua (Banks, 1892). 'Exigua' is Latin for 'small', and this spider is small. Pelegrina Franganillo, 1930, however, is obscure. Perhaps, it was named for the famous La Pelegrina Pearl, whose history is almost as fascinating as that of the Maltese Falcon.
Two Balloon Flowers
Well, I'm not the one to give a definitive spider identification and perhaps some reader will offer a more expert opinion. I do, however, claim that the perch is in fact a Balloon Flower, Platycodon grandiflorus (Great-flowered Broad Bell). Balloon flowers come up very late, so I'm not sure if my exemplar survived this winter or not. However, I know the last Viburnum trilobum has succumbed to root crown borers and that two Northline Saskatoons were victims of Wooly Elm Aphid. I suppose it is time to get muddy.
Balloon flower opening

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