Target found: Habronattus aztecanus

Why was I so interested in getting Habronattus aztecanus (mentioned in my last post)? The last time I was in this area, 16 years ago, we found this sunny species north of here on beaches in Nayarit. I say “sunny” because the male’s color is of sunlit sand, contrasting against darker shadows, stripes of black, a snow-white face, and splashes of red on the strange third leg. Like most of its relatives, the knee of the third leg is shaped and coloured strangely, a flag that he presents to the female. The overall effect is an uplifting desert southwest colour scheme.  Here is the male we found.  In the view of its face you can see the third leg with its red parts.


I very much wanted to see H. aztecanus alive again, because of its courtship. Unlike most of its relatives, it’s lost the intricate courtship display usually associated with a modified third leg, instead performing a simple, quick and ebullient display. This means it will make a useful evolutionary contrast to its baroque relatives. Now that we know it is on the beach, and know when and where to find it, we can get more to study better its courtship.

By the way, in the photo of the male’s face, you can see a peculiar features of H. aztecanus and its close relatives: looking down into the eyes, you can often see a striped or checkerboard pattern.  This presumably reflects the pattern of pigments in the eye.  I know of no other jumping spider with such a visible pattern.


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