Bold jumper spider hunts from mailbox

Once upon a time in eastern Becker County, there lived a bold jumping spider. She was called "Bold" because her brothers had black and white stripes on their legs, but the name was rightly hers, too, because she was bold in her own way.

Once upon a time in eastern Becker County, there lived a bold jumping spider. She was called "Bold" because her brothers had black and white stripes on their legs, but the name was rightly hers, too, because she was bold in her own way.

She was able to catch flies and other bugs, not by spinning a web, which is the usual spider way, but by stalking her prey. When she was within striking distance, she would pounce upon it. She was able to jump several inches, which is quite a distance when you are (counting legs and body) an inch-long spider like Bold.

Bold was a good hunter because she was born to be a good hunter. She had good eyesight because two of her eight eyes, the ones in the very front of her head, were huge. These big anterior median eyes (AME for short) allowed Bold to see her prey from a foot away.

She also had a back-up plan when she hunted. Before she even started to hunt, she would spin a line of silk down from a high perch. That way, if things didn't go her way, she could haul herself up on a dragline and get out of danger.

Because Bold was so fearless, she didn't behave like other spiders. Instead of scurrying away if something new came her way, she would often run up to it, as if to say, "Hello! I'm Bold. Who are you?" And whenever Bold ran, she moved with a herky-jerky motion, sideways or forward or backward, very quickly. She wasn't elegant with her footwork the way some spiders are - Bold was a sprinter and a dasher.


One day when Bold was exploring her little nook of eastern Becker County, she found a wonderful thing: There at the edge of the gravel road, up on a metal pipe, was a a big, black metal box. When Bold climbed up onto this metal box, she made another discovery: She could see the world.

Not only did the black metal box give an excellent vantage point for hunting bugs, but it was also fabulously warm in the June sunlight. And if there was one thing Bold liked more than eating juicy bugs, it was sitting in the warm sunshine.

So, from that day onward, Bold claimed the metal mailbox as her own. She hunted from it and sometimes hid inside it when it rained.

From time to time, a mail carrier came by and put envelopes and papers inside Bold's box. The first time it happened, Bold tried to hide by disappearing into the mailbox. But she didn't run far back enough, and she got buried under envelopes. The second time, she ran farther back into the mailbox and hid in the corner, out of the way of envelopes and papers. Just as she was making her way over the mail and out into the sunshine, though, the door to the mailbox opened again.

Bold just had time to hide under a postcard. Before she knew it, she was being lifted out of the mailbox, still under her the postcard, and set down on something called a dashboard. After waiting for a few moments, she decided to show herself. She ran out from beneath the postcard to say, "Hello! I'm Bold. Who are you?"

That's where I come into the story.

I'd seen Bold quite a few times when retrieving my mail, and I felt lucky that such a beautiful jumping spider had picked my mailbox to live in. I tried to take her picture, but Bold was always too quick for me. By the time I would focus my slow camera, Bold was gone, disappearing deep into the mailbox or underneath its lip, or sliding down her dragline.

Now I was looking at Bold, eye to eyes.


"Stop," I said to my husband Jeff, who was driving. "Turn around."

In the time it took Jeff to make a U-turn on the county road, I coax and brushed Bold off the mail and into the case for my sunglasses. I gently closed the lid so Bold couldn't escape. When Jeff pulled up next to our mailbox, I handed him the case.

"Open it up inside the box," I said, and he did. And Bold eventually dropped out of the case and into the interior of the mailbox.

All the way to Bemidji Jeff and I joked about how Bold just wanted to take a ride and go see the big city. When I tried to imitate how Bold would talk if she were a person, I came up with a husky, throaty voice. Jeff said Bold sounded a little like Brenda Vaccaro.

Background information on the bold jumping spider came from Larry Weber's book, "Spiders of the North Woods."

Red squirrel

Joan McQuillen suggested that I try oil of peppermint under the hood of the truck to keep red squirrels away. I'm going to give it a whirl.

Thank you to all who wrote with news. When sending your reports, be sure to give your name and a little information on where you made your sighting. Send to maureeng@ no later than 8 a.m. Thursdays. If it's easier, feel free to drop a letter by the office, or in the mail.


This column is brought to you by Park Ace Hardware.

Stop in and check out our great selection of grills and accessories.

Open seven days a week, Ace is located on Highway 71 south, Park Rapids, 732-4513. Ace is the place with the helpful hardware folks.

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