Maihueniopsis archiconoidea (2015)

PhotoBy Chris Deem (January 2015)

A strong gust of wind deposited a fine layer of dust on the dirt – encrusted segments of a Maihueniopsis archiconoidea. Five small, grayish-brown spiders were also deposited there by the same strong wind. On two of the young arachnids, long, bone-white silken strands were still attached to their spinnerets.

From her vantage point in the petal of a yellow flower, one of the spiders sat motionless above the others. She peered down at her siblings with her eight eyes. They were all well camouflaged by brown bristles and spines. Still, three of the four below her jumped to the ground.

The spiders on the ground quickly departed, each of them alone. The spider on the flower peered down at the remaining small spider below her. It was impaled on a spine and struggling to free itself. She could see his distress and began to move cautiously through the bristles and spines toward her brother.

When the impaled spider saw her, he seemed to rally and almost freed himself. It was a desperate and futile act. She was upon him. She opened her jaws and injected her venom. At this same moment, across the Andes in Argentina, a grayish-brown spider peered down from a very similar yellow flower on a Maihueniopsis minuta.