NEWTON COUNTY, INDIANA — Although the researchers searched The grassland at Kankakee Sands Hoping to find one, it wasn’t until they examined a section of prairie on the eastern edge of the property that they found a tiny jumping spider – much smaller than the size of your fingernail.
From the inside of the battery-powered, spider-catching vacuum cleaner, the volunteers looked like a Hebronatosor the heaven-jumping spider, staring back at them from a multifaceted view that only eight eyes could bear.
“We knew right away that this was probably a state record discovery,” said Rick Malad, a team volunteer credited with reporting on the discovery at Kankakee Sands in June.
Their encounter marked the first time a sky-hopping spider had been recorded in Indiana. While the discovery wasn’t a complete surprise to the volunteers, and the spider’s presence has already been documented in other neighboring countries, it impressed everyone.
Go to today, and Hebronatos It was kind of on our radar, because we knew it would make a good home for him. But for this particular spider, we didn’t necessarily expect to find it.
The discovery was made as part of an annual 24-hour excursion at Kankakee Sands – he made it Indiana Academy of Sciences BioBlitz Program For nearly a decade – this has been documenting which invertebrate, mammal, or bird species might call upon the restored prairie lands of western Indiana.
Paradise jumping spiders are found throughout most of the eastern part of the United States and as far north as the Pacific Northwest, and they feature iridescent, pink limbs and longer third legs.
Deceived hunters with an appetite for land-dwelling invertebrates—whose commitment to their own safety is ensured by a thin line of silk they push outward, fending off them and creating the illusion of an aptly named jump—they’re generalist predators who will eat just about anything they can catch. At 7mm max, they’ll take what they can get.
“If they miss their mark, they can pull themselves back up. And they’ll also build up skins. If you, for example, open a leaflet stuck together, you might find what looks like a silk cocoon, basically. And jumping spiders will use this kind of like their home base, Malad said.
This one being found alive and thriving in a part of Indiana that was once 8,000 acres of farmland that has been specially reclaimed for constant restoration bodes well for the health of that region’s ecosystem.
“You can’t have predator species without prey species. Prey species would be thriving, if plant species were present. If there weren’t native plants there to support the prey species, spiders wouldn’t be there,” Malad said.
An official registration of a jumping spider does not mean that the species is extinct, or even necessarily newly introduced, to Indiana. Volunteers believe it was likely that there were gaps in the state’s official records that led to the spider being snubbed.
Casey Venable, a recent graduate of the University of Indianapolis who is credited with first discovering the spider, said she was shocked by the state’s lack of documentation surrounding what spiders live here.
This species has been documented in neighboring states but has somehow slipped through the cracks of Indiana’s records. In fact, Dr. Mark Milne, a professor of biology at the University of Indianapolis, has added hundreds of spiders to Indiana’s list in just the past decade. To me, it’s surprising that these discoveries don’t still ongoing in 2023,” Venable said in a statement about the meeting.
A discovery volunteers hope will be made as restoration continues at Kankakee Sands.
“That would be a very strong ecosystem out there. This place is definitely a hotbed for species like that, they might not be able to thrive in, let’s say, an agricultural environment,” Malad said.
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