Maratus speciosus is sometimes known as the coastal peacock or jumping spider. It's an Australian species (family Salticidae). Only the coast sand dunes in southwestern Western Australia are known to be their habitat. The males of this species, like other Maratus spiders engage in courtship displays during which they raise their third set of legs and present their colorful opisthosomal plates to potential female partners. Contrary to other Maratus spiders, this species' males have bright orange hairs (setae), along the edges of their opisthosoma. These are only visible during the courtship display.
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Peacock spiders belong to class Arachnida. They are most common in Australia. However, one species is found in China. The genus name Maratus is not a translation. However, the species translations such as Albus (meaning white) directly refer to their physical attributes. The male peacock spiders are known for their vibrant colors and energy.
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Peacock spider males have black hind legs and white hind legs. They also have vibrant red, orange and white coloration on their bodies. These colors are caused by microscopic scales that are found all over their bodies. The color of the females is plain brown. Peacock spiders have 6-8 eyes. Most of these simple organs convey information about light and darkness. The central eyes of the peacock spider are more powerful and can transmit information in fine detail as well as in color. Their eyes feature spherical lenses, an internal focusing mechanism and a four-tiered retina.
Coastal Peacock Spider Habitat and Distribution
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These beautiful spiders can be found in Australia and China, in both semi-arid areas and in temperate zones. Because of their mobile hunting habits, some live in one type of habitat while others can occupy multiple. There are many habitats available, including deserts, dunes and savannas as well as grasslands, scrub forests, and grasslands.
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Coastal Peacock Spider Diet and Behavior
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Peacock spiders don't spin webs. Instead, they hunt small insects daily. They eat flies, moths and winged ants as well as small insects that they can catch. If they are not impressed by male dances, females will eat males. Peacock spiders can see from miles away their prey and attack from faraway places to inflict a fatal bite. They are able to leap large distances to avoid larger spiders and other predators. They live alone until mating season when they aggressively court their female partners.
Only during mating season do peacock spiders communicate. The vibrations made by males are transmitted to the females' hind legs by vibrating them. Chemical pheromones are released by females from their abdomens. These chemicals produce drag-lines which can be picked up and used to stimulate chemoreceptors within the males. The males' bright colors are clearly seen by peacock spiders, whose eyes can see fine details over distances.
Coastal Peacock Spider Reproduction and offspring
Peacock spiders are in their mating season from August through December. Males are more sexually mature than their female counterparts, and they begin the mating ritual sitting on top of a high surface waving their hind leg. To attract a female, he emits vibrations. He then begins a mating dance with her by exposing a flat portion of his abdomen and fanning out. He displays the flat section alternately with his hind legs until the female decides.
Males can be very aggressive and will often make multiple attempts at winning over a woman. They can pursue pregnant and aloof females as well as those of other species. Females can show disinterest in males by raising their abdomens to deter them or by even eating them. Pregnant females lay hundreds of spider eggs in December. After they hatch, she stays with them until they are able to feed themselves.
Coastal Peacock Spider Species
Over 40 Maratus species are known to exist, with most living in Australia and one in China. While some species can travel across large areas, others are limited to a single area. The majority of species can grow to 0.19 inches. However, they vary in their patterns and colors, which affects the choreography of their dances.
Coastal Peacock Spider Conservation Status
The International Union for Conservation of Nature has not assessed all species of the genus Maratus. According to Arachnologists, habitat destruction through controlled burns or wildfires is the greatest threat to these animals.
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