Weird spider - what is this

I found the weirdest spider on my porch (which is near my garden ). Does anyone have any idea what this is? It has short legs, which eliminates most spiders common to this area. It also has a very distinctive pattern on it's back. Is this a good spider to move to the garden?
http://zootal.no-ip.info/stuff/2006%20June%20Weird%20Spider/images/DSCF3580.jpg
The entire gallery is here:
http://zootal.no-ip.info/stuff/2006%20June%20Weird%20Spider/
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I vote for a type of jumping spider. Short legs, highly mobile, fat abdomen. I've never seen one like this, or this big before.
"Matthew Reed" <nospam at zootal dot com nospam> wrote in message

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Matthew Reed wrote:

There is a common species Phidippus audax commonly called the "daring jumping spider" (sounds like a phrase from a movie trailer) that is found throughout most of N.A. These spiders get up to 15mm for females with males being just a little smaller.
As for being good in a garden I think that every sort of spider is good in a garden, even black widows and brown recluses although having many of those around would make one more careful about reaching blindly into a tomato plant feeling for ripe ones. I figure that spiders eat insects and many insects eat plants therefore the more spiders the better.
--
John McGaw
[Knoxville, TN, USA]
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I spent 15 years in Vegas in a neighborhood with black widow infestations. They don't like gardens, but prefer dry undisturbed corners and enclosed, sheltered locations. I think it's the moisture they avoid, as well as the constant motion of wind and people watering and working around the plants. I've opened kitchen cupboards and found a large one built a nest overnight. I've reached into a bag of flour to find one had crawled in and setup a nest. I came too close to being bit that time. If you know what to look for, you will see these webs along sidewalks, in corners, just about everywhere you look. But I rarely saw one in my garden, a black widow would not build a nest in a tomato plant. The exception might be if it's a large plant sprawled on the ground. Black Widows are nocturnal, and prefer dark places for webs, another reason you might not see many of them in the garden. There are a few spiders that should be killed on sight, and the black widow is one of them. This spider has no place in home or garden.
</soapbox>
This particular specimen was about 3/8 of an inch long, and rather pretty. Very unusual looking. Very short legs, and highly mobile. It would actually move to look at me as I moved my head around to get a good look.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Matthew Reed wrote:

I, too lived in Clark County for some time and know a bit about living around black widows. They didn't bother me terribly as long as they were outside but they did freak my wife out no matter where they were so any time she saw one it became my duty to kill it.
There are a few of them around this area but not in numbers like LV. I had one living just outside my bathroom window and I spent an entire summer watching her go about regular life, catching prey, and raising some spiderlings. But like I said, as long as they are outside and in a known location I still go by "live and let live".
I had a small jumping spider which took up residence in/on/around the exterior keypad for my garage door. And we got to know each other pretty well and (s)he got to the point where I was trusted to put a small stunned fly on the top of the keypad and occasionally the spider would grab it before it recovered and flew or fell off. The spider could also be counted upon to put up its front legs in a boxing stance if I waved my finger in front of its face. Jumping spiders are supposed to have very good vision and I'm convinced that this one eventually came to recognize me on sight.
--
John McGaw
[Knoxville, TN, USA]
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I've always had a fondness for what is commonly called 'garden spiders' around these parts. They have a colorful black and yellow pattern and can grow rather large (a couple of inches in diameter). There was a bridge near the college I attended that was covered with their webs. Creeped some people out but I was fascinated. Also had one living in my porch railing... almost considered her a pet after a while.
Thad
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.