From octal to heximal

While I have a ridiculous number of images to sort through, mostly due to the hawks (I fire off a lot of frames to try and capture specifics of behavior as well as ‘something cute’) and I am behind on posting several photos of interest, this one jumped ahead of the stack for no good reason. I know, if I had to do this I could have gone with something much more appealing, but I’m me…

Fishing spider Dolomedes tenebrosus missing left middle legsRemember when I said that it would be interesting to see if the fishing spider managed to live peacefully in close proximity to the frogs? Of course you do – forget I asked that. Well, checking it out late last night, I found that something had changed since my last sighting a few nights before. I didn’t see this happen, so I can only speculate, but when I got this photo, a green frog was sitting not two meters away.

I see similar physical states among spiders frequently, and even watched one specimen lose a couple, and another with only three legs. Most don’t seem too affected by the loss, showing no visible reduction in mobility or dexterity (save for the three-legged one.) I would like to say I have the opportunity to observe this one’s behavior rather easily, but I have seen just two types of behavior from my resident here: sitting motionless in the flashlight beam at night, and hurtling under cover at first glimpse by day. So I wouldn’t be able to tell much, I suspect.

I’m curious as to whether this affects the spider’s ability to walk on water, but I’ve never seen this one close to the water, much less using it, and most times it’s on the opposite side of its rock-mound ‘home’ (what will eventually be a small waterfall, if I ever finish the damn thing) from the pond itself – they don’t need to be near water, but they tend to be.

Do they learn anything from such experiences? Does the spider feel pain? We honestly don’t know. But let’s think about it for a second. Obviously there’s a sense of touch that helps them find prey and avoid danger. But pain, to us, is a signal that something’s wrong, telling us that we’re bleeding or that we need to allow an injury to heal. For spiders, once the limb is gone, nothing’s going to happen – they don’t bleed, they won’t be waiting for it to heal, there’s no benefit to feeling pain in such circumstances, so our best guess answer to the question is, “Not as such.” Obviously, the loss of the limbs is not as life-threatening to them as it would be for us, so our instinctual reaction is probably quite inaccurate.

Fishing spider Dolomedes tenebrosus showing stumps of missing legs
(The spider was actually vertical, like the above pic, but it’s easier to look at this way.)