Small as they are, all spiders have the ability to catch their prey effectively. While most spiders build webs, others rely on their hunting skills alone. One of such eight-legged species is the jumping spider.
Unlike other arachnids, jumping spiders are visual predators. They mainly utilize their ability to jump directly at the location of their prey. Despite being feared by small insects, they pose no danger to humans at all.
Jumping spiders are true stars of the spider universe. If you want to take a peek inside their world, this article is the best place to start. Without further ado, let me introduce you to these fuzzy, interesting creatures.
What Is a Jumping Spider?
A jumping spider is the largest family of spiders known for its amazing sense of eyesight. Living up to its name, it is capable of jumping or propelling itself as far as 50 times its body length. Because of this ability, the jumping spider doesn’t need to spin silk webs to trap its prey.
Jumping spiders are the most distinguishable spiders due to their appearance. Aside from making them adorable, their physical attributes also aid in their ability to hunt and survive. Amazingly, these spiders can also be kept as pets!
There are over 5,000 species of jumping spiders which comprises around 13 percent of all spiders worldwide. In the United States alone, there are roughly 300 species of this spider family.
Jumping Spider Characteristics: What Does a Jumping Spider Look Like?
Many of us get frightened at the thought of spiders. There’s a reason why they are used as Halloween decorations, after all. However, jumping spiders don’t qualify as scary. In fact, they are pretty cute.
As mentioned, jumping spiders have very distinct features. They have small, compact bodies typically covered in dense, fuzzy hairs that are either iridescent or brightly colored.
Their abdomen and legs are commonly covered in a pattern of stripes and spots. They come in various colors, including brown, gray, yellow, red, tan, or gray-white combinations.
As adults, their size is estimated to be ⅛ to ¾ inches. In contrast to their tiny bodies, they have eight long legs, four of which are usually thicker and longer than the other legs. Meanwhile, their two front legs, called palps, are smaller and used to catch prey.
The jumping spider is also known for its unique eyes. Like its legs, this spider has eight eyes arranged in three rows.
The first or front row consists of four eyes. The middle pair is round and much larger than those on the lateral side. The second and third rows each have a tiny pair of eyes.
Male and female jumping spiders can also be easily identified. Males are actually smaller than females.
In terms of length, adult male jumping spiders can grow to only ¼ of an inch while adult females can reach ¾ of an inch.
It is also very typical for males to have black and white coloration with green or blue chelicerae.
On the other hand, females vary greatly in terms of color. Aside from black and white, they can come in shades of brown and orange. However, the leg fringes are more defined in male jumping spiders.
If you want to witness the largest jumping spider ever recorded, take a look at the video below:
Jumping Spider Vision: Do Jumping Spiders Have Good Sight?
A significant factor for the jumping spider’s successful predatory jumps is their remarkable vision.
Each pair of this critter’s eyes has a different task in the visual perception process. This allows them to sense their potential prey and prepare for their deadly leaps.
In total, a jumping spider has eight eyes. The forward-facing anterior median (AM) eyes are the largest of them all.
When you look at the side of the AM eyes, you’ll see the anterior lateral (AL) eyes which are much smaller. Then, behind the AL eyes lies the posterior median (PM) eyes and posterior lateral (PL) eyes.
The jumping spider’s AM eyes have a complex structure that allows them to detect motion and gauge the depth of the image or subject they are looking at.
There are a total of four layers in the photoreceptor cells in their eyes’ retina. Two membranes are responsible for detecting UV light, while the others are only sensitive to green light.
When a jumping spider detects green light, it is focused on the deepest green-sensitive membrane. Then, the fuzzy layer receives the blurry image and measures the amount of defocus to calculate its distance.
The AL eyes, on the other hand, allow the jumping spider to see clearly and make out the details of an image. Even when the other eyes are covered, the spider can still detect and attack prey using AL eyes.
Meanwhile, the PM and PL eyes are responsible for motion detection. Because of this, a jumping spider can sense the movement of insects and other animals from all angles.
When combined, all of their eight eyes give the spider an almost 360-degree view of its surroundings. This is an excellent advantage as a predator and also as prey to bigger animals.
Jumping Spider Habitat: Where Do Jumping Spiders Live?
Most jumping spiders can be found primarily in Australia. However, they are also sighted on the other side of the world, like Canada and the United States. There are also several species existing in Asian countries.
They live in a variety of habitats, including forests, deserts, and mountain areas. A species of jumping spider called the Euophrys omnisuperstes or the Himalayan jumping spider can be found in Mount Everest.
In the wild, you can find them under loose tree barks, under stones, bushes, or between leaves where they can easily find prey.
Since they are diurnal animals, they can be found on all types of vegetation, especially during sunny days.
Jumping Spider Diet and Eating Habits: What Do Jumping Spiders Eat?
In general, jumping spiders are carnivorous. Most species rely heavily on a diet of insects like crickets, moths, fruit flies, and even other spiders.
Despite their carnivorous nature, you can also find ones that feed on nectar, pollen, and even plants.
In captivity, you can feed them with the same insects they hunt in the wild. You can also add cockroaches, worms, or any bug you can find available at your local pet store. Just like any other pet, you need to provide an ample amount of water to their tank.
Jumping Spider Ecology and Behavior: How Do Jumping Spiders Behave?
All jumping spiders are active hunters during the daytime. They can move sideways and backward very swiftly and pounce on nearby insects.
They can easily sense threats and dangers from bigger animals which triggers them to jump as far as possible.
Because of their internal hydraulic system, they can extend their legs by changing the pressure of their body fluid.
This allows them to leap long distances without much effort. To land safely, jumping spiders make silk lines that act as safety ropes.
Aside from this ability, a particular species of jumping spider called the Myrmarachne melanocephala is known for its ant-mimicking ability.
As expected, their appearance closely resembles their prey. Aside from taking on their colors, they also behave like ants by waving two of their legs like an antenna.
Other species of these little leapers have been reported to show an ability to learn, recognize, and remember colors.
In the presence of humans, most spiders shy away and hide. By nighttime, they hide in their small silk chambers, which are usually attached to any form of vegetation.
As pets, you will surely enjoy the company of this furry eight-legged friend. Small, agile, and cute as they are, jumping spiders also display keen intelligence. They are also very friendly and interactive.
After some time, you will observe that each jumping spider has its own personality. While some are a bit timid, others are playful or skittish.
Jumping Spider Reproduction: How Often Do Jumping Spiders Have Babies?
Jumping spiders have a very captivating process for procreation. To start, a female jumping spider can lay more than 125 eggs in a nest. After a month of guarding and feeding the hatchlings, the female often dies.
Despite this tragic ending for female jumping spiders, their love affair with male spiders is still something worth knowing.
In order to seduce potential mates, the adult male needs to court the female first. The ritual starts when the male makes specific movements with his legs and shows off his colored spots.
At first, the female may play hard to get. This signals the male to work even harder for his prize. As he continues to show off his leg fringes, the female slowly succumbs to his calling.
However, the male must always be on guard. If he attempts to mate with an already mated female, he will most likely get killed.
As you can see, reproduction is quite a gamble in the spider’s world. Female jumping spiders only mate once in their life, and the breeding window comes in late spring or early summer. However, in warmer climates, the rate of reproduction is much higher.
Jumping Spider Lifespan: How Long Do Jumping Spiders Live?
Sadly, jumping spiders live for a very short time. The average lifespan of a jumping spider in the wild is only around a year. Some spiders live for up to two to three years in captivity.
If you plan on keeping one as a pet, you need to understand the special requirements and overall responsibility of maintaining one.
You need to provide a safe environment that imitates their natural habitat. This means placing their enclosure where they can get maximum light exposure.
Along with an abundant supply of prey items, you can significantly extend your jumping spider’s life. Make sure to do your own research before trying to buy or catch one.
Jumping Spider Taxonomy: What Is the Classification of Jumping Spiders?
The taxonomy of jumping spiders defines the classification of these species in the biological kingdom.
Jumping spiders belong to the class Arachnida where all spiders and scorpions are classified. Under the Arachnida class, they are part of the family Salticidae.
The breakdown of the jumping spider taxonomy can be seen below:
- Subclass: Arachnida
- Order: Araneae
- Family: Salticidae
- Genus: Phidippus
The list of jumping spider species under the Phidippus genus can be seen in the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) report. This is an online database of all biological species, their names, and their hierarchical classification.
The family Salticidae is further subdivided into seven subfamilies:
Out of the mentioned subfamilies, the Salticinae comprises the largest percentage of existing jumping spider species. Around 90% of jumping spiders belong to this group.
Here are some common jumper spider species:
- Bold jumping spider (Phidippus audax): This species is larger than other jumping spiders. It is estimated that their size is about one segment of a human’s finger. As the name suggests, these spiders are not as reserved as their cousins. It is common for adults to have yellow, orange, or red spots on their abdomen.
- Regal jumping spider (Phidippus regius): This is another jumping spider species found in North America. Known to be the largest of its kind, the regal jumping spider is notable for spinning a nest of silk for sleeping. Instead of having green chelicerae, most of them are blue-violet colored.
- Tan jumping spider (Platycruptus undatus): You will often find a tan jumping spider under tree barks, both in the United States a nd Canada. The spider’s tan color is perfect camouflage for bigger predators. While most jumping spiders flee at the sight of humans, this one allows itself to be held.
- Zebra jumping spider (Salticus scenicus): Usually found throughout North America and Europe, the zebra jumping spider is known for its vivid black-and-white stripes. They often live near homes, flashing their colors on windows, walls, and fences.
- Elegant golden jumping spider (Chrysilla lauta): This species may be the most colorful spider you can witness. Living in the rainforests of China and Vietnam, this eye-catching spider comes in an iridescent coloring which includes shades of gold, red, blue, pink, and green. Staying true to its name, this spider looks no less than an elegant piece of jewelry.
Luckily, you don’t have to spend a fortune if you wish to own one of these majestic spiders.
You can purchase them from reliable sellers for around $10 or less for a spiderling. If you want an adult male or female, you should prepare approximately $20 to $30.
Regardless of the species, owning a jumping spider is more budget-friendly than other exotic pets.
Housing can be done without spending a dime, while prey items can be bought for a cheap price or even cultivated on your own.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Do Jumping Spiders Look Cute?
Jumping spiders are among the cutest spider species you will lay your eyes on. Their irresistible charm comes from their eccentric appearance. Their large, forward-facing eyes make them look straight out of the movie, A Bug’s Life.
Are Jumping Spiders Friendly?
To humans, jumping spiders are considered very friendly. Although they tend to be a bit jumpy and shy, they are quite curious about us.
When approached carefully, they will usually stay for a while to observe. As an owner, you won’t have to worry about getting bitten or poisoned by venom.
Do Jumping Spiders Jump on Humans?
No, jumping spiders are only known to jump on their prey and not on humans. When suddenly approached by someone, they typically get startled and proceed to run away and hide. Getting a nasty bite is very unlikely to happen.
Are Jumping Spiders Dangerous to Humans?
Despite being predators that track and ambush prey, jumping spiders are no danger to humans. In rare cases when a jumping spider bites you, pain and swelling will be observed in that area.
However, a jumping spider’s bite is not life-threatening. Their venom is stingy but not poisonous.
How to Get Rid of Jumping Spiders?
It’s one thing to have a jumping spider as a pet, but it’s a burden to have them invade your home.
Although they are not dangerous, they may find sanctuary in your home and continue laying eggs. If it becomes unmanageable, you should call the pest control office immediately.
Jumping spiders are not your average household arachnids. While others impress us with their webs, these spiders amaze us with their talent.
Known for their jumping ability, jumping spiders are also gifted with the best vision in the spider kingdom.
Unlike most spider species, it’s hard to resist the cuteness of a jumping spider. Their adorable looks match their personality perfectly. Despite being aggressive predators, they are quite friendly to people.
Keeping a jumping spider as a pet can be very rewarding. Owners will never be at risk of getting bitten by these sociable creatures. Even though their bite contains venom, the effect is only mild and treatable.