Monday, November 24, 2014

Sentor, Sentors (for Senator, Senators)

Quick, what first comes to mind when you hear the phrase “Phidippus Audax”?  For me, it’s evocative of a Roman senator or centurion.  And even if reality is not as noble as the first, it’s certainly as brave as the latter, for Phidippus audax is the Latin name for the Bold (or Daring) Jumping Spider.

Jumping spiders are fierce hunters that can be easily identified by their fuzzy appearance, eight eyes, and green or blue fangs.  They don’t spin webs, but they do use a filament as a safety line when launching themselves into a jump. In our house we often find they’ve staked their territory in a windowsill or flowerpot, where we will see them for several days at a time before they move on.  These little guys are intensely curious about humans, and not at all afraid.  Not surprisingly, they have very good eyesight.

If you hate spiders, sorry to make you shudder.  But we’re quite fond of this variety and have even composed a little song in their honor (sung to the tune of “The Man on the Flying Trapeze”):

He flies through the air with the greatest of ease,
The Daring Jumping Spider needs no trapeze;
His movements are graceful, all prey he does seize,
The Daring Jumping Spider needs no trapeze.

A search for Sentor pulls up 8 entries in the OhioLINK database, and Sentors finds 2 results.  In WorldCat, the numbers are 155 and 9, respectively.  Be careful, though, because many are actually instances of the proper name Sentor.  While one should surely eradicate these pesky typos, the next time you encounter Phidippus audax, please consider giving him or her a break!

(Adult female Phidippus audax, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

1 comment:

R.A. Stewart said...

What a cute picture! I have a more or less lifelong fondness for spiders and am the designated spider whisperer in our department. There is something very appealing about the fearlessness of those little jumping spiders in particular. And, of course, every spider you see means countless pesky critters you don't have to deal with.

The Field Museum had an exhibit on spiders years ago whose tagline was, "You're never more than three feet from a spider." I found this strangely comforting, though others seem, oddly, to feel otherwise.

No sentors in our catalog, nor anything named "audax," alas. (Or eheu, to keep it Latin.)