While making breakfast, my duck spotted movement on the oven. It turned out to be an unwelcome guest in the form of an elegant jumping spider (Chrysilla lauta). Using glittering palps and forelegs, the male signals his iridescent ardour and reproductive health to potential mates. Daytime hunters of ants, these Salticids have some the best vision among spiders, stalking small prey with the stealth of cats and pouncing to deliver a quick dose of venom before the food can fight back.
When a female is detected, the male uses a zigzag dance to approach her, giving each other enough time to ascertain their mutual identities and suppress the instinct to devour. Opisthosoma atwitch, palps vibrating and forelegs up like stiff and shiny banners, the male blinds the lady with a display of colours visible and possibly invisible. If she so deigns, the effort is acknowledged with a come-hither wave by a palp. She crouches, allows the male a quick fondle before he mounts to insert his sperm packet into her oviduct.
As for this fella barely a centimetre long, I ferried him to the sink where the light was slightly better and attempted my first nude photoshoot. He suffered the indignity for half an hour, trying at one point to hide behind the toothpaste, but when his pride could take it no more, an almighty leap landed him in the safe pit of Angelmiao's litterbox. Which probably saved him from a squishy fate, for how can one tolerate the intrusion of organic wild things into this orderly sphere of safe and secure walls, where a virtual reality of command and control over inorganic kingdoms rules in glorious isolation from the world wide without?