I never before thought of my garden as a place of carnage, but insects eating other insects is quite normal and helps with the balance and ecology – then I witnessed it first hand this past Tuesday morning as I focused my camera on what I hoped was a new butterfly species (it was!). This, my first Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak (Strymon istapa) was flying and landed on one of my Heliconia flowers (1st photo below) and when I snapped this photo that tiny Jumping Spider (Salticidae) down below him in the photo jumped up on the little butterfly (with attached silk thread) and grabbed the butterfly by its head, biting it with a venomous bite that instantly paralyzed and will soon kill the butterfly which the Jumping Spider will eat. I did not stay around for the full meal, but photos of three stages follow this one. 🙂
3 more photos below of the capture, paralyzing and preparing to eat.
The jumping spider above is just one of 6,000 species of Jumping Spiders (Salticidae), the largest category of spiders worldwide! They all have 8 eyes and 360° vision. They all attach a silk thread first, then jump on their prey and, as in this instance, the silk keeps him/her from falling with prey to the ground. Read more about Jumping Spiders on Wikipedia. Nature never ceases to amaze and because of that I’m never bored! 🙂
This Butterfly Up Close
And to read about and see more photos of my new Hairstreak Butterfly, go to Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak on butterfliesandmoths.org with a map showing where all the photos there have come from. It is part of a volunteer research program that I’m the Costa Rica Coordinator for.