Collecting jumping spiders over the last four decades, there have been many times when I’ve been in a place where I know a species lives, but I can’t find any specimens hopping around. I know there must be some alive within 50 meters of where I am standing. This happened over the last few days on the beach in Puerto Vallarta, where I strongly suspected Habronattus aztecanus might live, but we weren’t finding it. We went to the beach on our first day, but it was cloudy and late. The next afternoon we found a female that I suspected was H. aztecanus, but no males to confirm. Why was it so difficult?
On Saturday we changed two things. First, we got there early, while the air was still cool and the sun just hitting the beach. This is ideal for finding Habronattus, because in those conditions they come up to sit and hop in the sun, warming their bodies. When it’s hot or cloudy, they tend to be down within the tangle of vegetation and litter. Second, we tried walking further, and found a different habitat, along a small road with short grasses on the sand. That was the magic: we found more females, some juveniles, and an adult male. It really was there!