Are Jumping Spiders Smart? Unraveling the Truth Behind Their Intelligence

Jumping spiders have long been the subject of fascination, thanks to their unique hunting abilities and highly developed eyesight.

Their superior cognitive abilities make them smarter than many other spider species.

Are Jumping Spiders Smart

One key aspect of the jumping spider’s intelligence is its ability to recognize and understand biological motion, or the movement of living organisms.

This ability allows them to accurately track and jump on their prey, displaying impressive accuracy and agility.

It is important to note that while jumping spiders may be considered smart compared to other spiders, it is essential to avoid unrealistic or exaggerated claims about their capabilities.

However, their impressive skills and unique features certainly make them an exciting subject of study and observation.

Jumping Spiders: Everything You Should Know

Jumping spiders belong to the family Salticidae, which is the largest family of spiders with over 5,000 species.

Some examples of popular jumping spider species include Phidippus audax and Salticus scenicus, often called zebra spiders.

Physical Features

Jumping spiders have unique physical features that set them apart from other spider families. These include:

  • Eight eyes: They have a remarkable visual system with four pairs of eyes, providing excellent depth perception and a wide field of view.
  • Compact body: Jumping spiders are medium-sized spiders with a compact body.
  • Coloration: Depending on the species, they display diverse patterns and colors, such as black with white markings or a zebra-like pattern in Salticus scenicus.

Habitats and Distribution

Jumping spiders can be found in a variety of habitats across the globe, including Asia, Africa, and Australia.

Some examples of their diverse habitats are:

  • Gardens: Many jumping spider species, like Phidippus audax, can be found in gardens and around homes.
  • Sunlit areas: Jumping spiders are active during the day and prefer to stay in areas exposed to sunlight, such as windows and walls.
  • Various environments: Depending on the species, jumping spiders can also be found in forests, grasslands, and deserts.

Table showing the habitat of different jumping spider species 

HabitatExamples of Jumping Spider Species
GardensPhidippus audax
Sunlit areasSalticus scenicus
Diverse regionsHyllus giganteus

Their adaptability and unique characteristics make jumping spiders an interesting subject of study for researchers and enthusiasts alike.

Cognitive Abilities

Recent studies, such as one conducted by Harvard researchers, have begun to shed light on the extent of their cognitive abilities.

Let’s take a look at the cognitive abilities that jumping spiders are known for.

Problem-Solving Skills

Jumping spiders display impressive problem-solving skills, approaching challenges in a methodical manner.

They can identify biological motion and have been known to plan routes to reach their prey.

Learning and Adaptation

These spiders possess genuine cognitive abilities, allowing them to adapt to various stimuli in their environment.

Their learning capacity enables them to detect threats and improve hunting techniques.


  • Menemerus semilimbatus, a jumping spider species, has shown the ability to identify biological motion cues in a forced-choice experiment.

Comparison to Vertebrates

While invertebrates, jumping spiders share some similarities with vertebrates in terms of cognitive abilities.

Both arthropods and vertebrates can:

  • Learn and adapt to new situations
  • Exhibit genuine cognition in response to stimuli
  • Use problem-solving skills to navigate their environment

Comparing vertebrates and jumping spiders in terms of cognitive abilities

FeatureJumping SpidersArthropods
Genuine Cognition
Learning & Adaptation

Keep in mind that jumping spiders are primitive in comparison to vertebrates and may have limitations in their cognitive abilities.

Vision and Sensory Abilities

Jumping spiders are known for their superb vision, with sharp eyesight that is necessary for their survival.

These spiders possess:

  • Eight eyes in total
  • A unique eye pattern, with two large principal eyes and six smaller secondary eyes

Their exceptional eyesight allows them to:

  • Detect prey with precision
  • Navigate through complex environments

Sensing Vibrations

In addition to their powerful eyesight, jumping spiders have the ability to sense vibrations.

This capability enables them to:

  • Detect threats
  • Notice movements of potential prey
  • Communicate with other spiders

For instance, male jumping spiders use vibrations to create mating signals that attract female spiders.

Spatial Awareness and Navigation

Jumping spiders exhibit impressive spatial awareness and navigation skills.

This is due to:

  • Their ability to perceive depth and three-dimensional space
  • Their unique retina structure with four-tiered photoreceptor layers

Here’s a comparison table summarizing jumping spiders’ key visual and sensory abilities:

EyesightEight eyes, sharp vision, unique eye patternPrecision in detecting prey, navigating
Sensing VibrationsSensing subtle movementsDetecting threats, communication
Spatial AwarenessDepth perception, three-dimensional space, special retina structureEfficient navigation, tracking prey and predators
Jumping Spider

Predatory Behavior and Diet

Hunting Techniques

Jumping spiders are known for their unique hunting techniques. They can:

  • Jump several times their body length
  • Attack prey with precision
  • Use their prominent pair of eyes to spot prey

For example, the Portia spider is a skilled hunter that uses techniques like stalking and careful planning.

Preferred Prey

Jumping spiders prefer to eat a wide range of small animals such as:

  • Insects
  • Other spiders
  • Small flies
  • Ants

They enjoy eating various prey, which makes them adaptable in different environments.

Unique Skills and Adaptations

Jumping spiders possess several unique skills and adaptations, including:

  • Eight eyes: They have excellent vision
  • Vibrissae: These hairs help them feel their surroundings
  • Jumping ability: Allows them to ambush prey and avoid predators

Table showing adaptations of jumping spiders that make them better hunters

Excellent eyesEight eyesSpot and track prey
JumpingBody lengthAttack prey, avoid predators
VibrissaeHairsFeel surroundings

Reproduction and Mating


Jumping spiders exhibit intriguing mating dance and courtship behaviors. Males use distinct dances to appeal to females.

Examples of mating dances:

  • Peacock spiders display brightly colored abdomens
  • Phidippus spiders wave their front legs

Species-Specific Rituals

Different species of jumping spiders showcase unique rituals. One well-known species is the Portia spider.

Portia spider behaviors:

  • Clever hunting techniques
  • Complex courtship rituals

Offspring and Survival

Reproduction leads to offspring, crucial for species survival. Benefits of offspring include:

  • Increased genetic diversity
  • Better adaptation to changing environments

Table showing different species of jumping spiders

SpeciesMating DanceVenom PotencyOffspring Survival Rate
Peacock spidersDisplay colorful abdomensMildModerate
PortiaComplex courtship, strategic huntingStrongHigh
PhidippusWave front legs, vibrant colorationModerateModerate

Unique Adaptations of Jumping Spiders

Silk Use and Webs

Jumping spiders possess a unique way of using silk to navigate their environment. Unlike other arachnids, they do not primarily use their silk for creating webs to capture prey.

Instead, they use a dragline, which is a silk strand that provides safety and stability during their daring leaps.

A few notable characteristics of their silk use include:

  • Using the dragline as a safety line during jumps
  • Employing the silk strand as a tool for exploring the environment

Camouflage and Mimicry

These intelligent spiders also display remarkable camouflage and mimicry abilities.

Some species, like Portia fimbriata, exhibit bright colors and patterns that help them blend in with their surroundings, which can range from temperate forests and scrubland to deserts.

Examples of camouflage and mimicry in jumping spiders:

  • Blending in with foliage and other surfaces
  • Mimicking the appearance of other venomous creatures to deter predators

Detours and Spatial Problem Solving

Jumping spiders are known for their impressive spatial problem-solving skills.

One study tested their abilities using an obstacle course, which included moats and boxes. The spiders were able to plan and execute complex detours in order to reach hidden prey within the course. They possess an exceptional tracheal system and book lungs, which aid in their capacity for learning and problem-solving.


  • Navigating complex environments with ease
  • Using their senses and unique eye pattern to gather information about their surroundings

Comparing cognitive skills of jumping spiders with other species

FeatureJumping SpidersOther Spiders
Web BuildingNot primarilyYes
Eye PatternUniqueVaries
CamouflageHighly skilledVaries


Jumping spiders reveal a remarkable level of intelligence and adaptability.

Their cognitive abilities, problem-solving skills, and unique hunting strategies set them apart within the spider kingdom.

While they might not match the intelligence of some vertebrates, their behaviors, exceptional vision, and diverse adaptations showcase an intriguing aspect of the natural world worth exploring further.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about jumping spiders. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Emerald Jumping Spider

Subject: WT Spider?
Location: Bronx, NY
July 13, 2014 5:22 pm
Saw this spider in Bronx, NY last June. Beautiful pattern on its back!
Signature: Mark

Jumping Spider
Jumping Spider

Hi Mark,
This gorgeous spider is a Jumping Spider in the family Salticidae, and we are going to attempt to research the species at a later time. 

Jumping Spiders are harmless to humans.  They are hunting spiders that do not spin webs to trap prey, preferring to pounce on flies and other prey, often from a great distance.  The large eyes have excellent vision, and the accuracy of their hunting skills are quite wondrous.

Jumping Spider
Jumping Spider

Amazing! Thanks so much!
FYI,  I’ve got a bunch of other insect closeup photos that I’d love to send for ID as I become more interested in the world of insect photography.

I know you guys are busy, so I hope you don’t mind. I frequently post these pictures with IDs on a photo enthusiast website, so please know that your help to me is also benefitting other photo enthusiasts in their knowledge of insects.
Thanks again!

We would love additional high quality images, but please submit only one per day.  You can submit images and identification requests by using the Ask What’s That Bug? link on our site.

Update:  December 29, 2018
Thanks to Barbara who identified this Emerald Jumping Spider which is pictured on BugGuide, though not with that common name.  According to the Penn State Entomology Department site:  “Description  Paraphidippus aurantius is quite variable in appearance, owing somewhat to the iridescent scales that appear as different colors depending on the observer’s point of view. Additionally, the color of some of the markings can range from a light golden brown to white.

The female has a band of light-colored scales extending from the eyes around the lateral margins of the cephalothorax and also around the sides of the abdomen. The dorsal surfaces of both the cephalothorax and abdomen are a light reddish-brown with iridescent green scales. The eyes are surrounded by a patch of black scales. The abdomen has four pair of white spots—the third pair elongated laterally—and orange spots midway on the sides of the abdomen.

The legs are brown, with the first pair having black bands. Males are much darker, which makes the abdominal spots stand out while the orange spots are harder to see. Females are 8 to 12 millimeters long, while males 7 are 10 millimeters in length.”

Letter 2 – Female Jumping Spider

pregnant phidippus mystaceus jumping spider
November 23, 2009
I was out in my backyard a few days ago when I came across this female /Phidippus mystaceus/. Her abdomen was huge, and looked like she was carrying eggs. Enjoy the pictures.
Josh Kouri

Female Jumping Spider:  Phidippus mystaceus
Female Jumping Spider: Phidippus mystaceus

Hi Josh,
Thanks for sending us your wonderful photos of a female Phidippus mystaceus.

Female Jumping Spider:  Phidippus mystaceus
Female Jumping Spider: Phidippus mystaceus

Letter 3 – Green Jumping Spider

green lyssomanes
Greetings, and thank you for your WONDERUL site! We live on the Hillsborough River in Tampa, Florida, so we have zillions of lovely critters that share our world, and we use your site for reference often. My 3 and 6 year olds also love perusing the great photos.

Finally I may have a photo that you could use. I noticed that you don’t have many pics of the Green Jumping Spider–hard to photograph because they are so small. I took this the other day on our playset—they are quite unafraid of us and blend in with the green plastic slide…. Thanks again,

Hi Robin,
Thanks for you kind letter and your photo of a Green Jumping Spider. We believe it is Lyssomanes viridis, the Magnolia Green Jumper as pictured on BugGuide.

Letter 4 – Johnson Jumper

Subject: Red Body Spider
Location: Monterey Park, CA
April 18, 2014 12:09 am
Was at the park and a spider with red body jumped on my nephew. What is it?
Signature: Penny

Johnson Jumper
Johnson Jumper

Hi Penny,
We are serious when we inform you that this is a Jumping Spider in the family Salticidae, and we believe it is a Johnson Jumper,
Phidippus johnsoni.  According to BugGuide:  “Not harmful to humans, although like all spiders it will inflict a painful bite if provoked, and this species is reported to be more aggressive than other jumpers.” 

Thank you very much for your prompt response to my query.  I’ve never seen a spider with this bright red coloring before.  It was beautiful.

Letter 5 – Johnson Jumper kept in captivity

New Phiddipus jonsoni (male)
Location: Ventura, California, USA
May 11, 2012 5:59 pm
Hi! I’m the one who sent in the pictures of Ruby (the female) last year, and I’m happy to say I caught another near my apartment in Ventura. I’m sure it’s male, it has some markings but they aren’t as clear as Ruby’s were.

He’s happily living in Ruby’s old enclosure, which to my luck I had finally cleaned barely a week before finding him. I’ve had him for about 2 months now, he’s quite active and loves his cricket meals. I got a new phone with a better camera so I can finally share better pictures.
Signature: California Spider Lover again 😉

Johnson Jumper

Dear California Spider Lover,
Thanks so much for your follow-up report.  Please note that the scientific name for the Johnson Jumper contains an “h” and is spelled
Phiddipus johnsoni.

Letter 6 – Johnson’s Jumper

Subject: Big LA Jumping Spider?
Location: Venice, CA
November 2, 2016 11:36 am
Dear Bugman,
Once again, I call upon you to help me identify a little critter that has terrified my wife. This guy was big, bigger than a quarter, and its orange thorax and black and grayish stripped legs were very distinct and quite beautiful.

I assume this is some type of Jumping Spider…maybe originally from Mexico, maybe a male looking for a mater? Any help identifying would be great. You’ll be happy to know that after a conversation with the spider it walked out on its own.
Signature: -Teacher Todd

Johnson's Jumper
Johnson’s Jumper

Dear Teacher Todd,
Our money is on this being Johnson’s Jumper,
Phidippus johnsoni, a species described on BugGuide as being:  “Mostly black with a red abdomen. The male’s abdomen is entirely red, whereas the female’s abdomen has a black mark down the center.”  This BugGuide image is a good match.  Because of your tolerance, we are tagging this posting with the Bug Humanitarian Award.

Letter 7 – Emerald Jumping Spider

Subject: spider
Location: Shamona Creek side, Chester County, PA
March 7, 2017 4:02 pm
June 24, 2012. I was walking past a huge patch of lilies next to a creek when this little pugilist leaped out of the center of the flower. It stood there as if ready to fight to protect its home. The spider didn’t move while I readied my camera and took the picture.

It then then did an amazing backward leap into the flower and was gone. I was fascinated by the ring on its body and the color inside it and the ring around its back (sac?). I didn’t see it in the ‘Spiders of Pennsylvania’ website
Thank you in advance
Signature: Sarah

Emerald Jumping Spider

Dear Sarah,
This is a Jumping Spider in the family Salticidae, a group that does not build webs to snare prey.  Jumping Spiders are hunting spiders that pounce on their prey from a considerable distance with remarkable accuracy.  They can also take down prey much larger than they. 

Though they are harmless to humans, Jumping Spiders are fearless, and they will follow a human with their acute eyesight if they feel threatened, but they do not back down.  This lovely metallic individual appears to be a male because of his large pedipalps.  We will attempt a species identification and get back to you if we are successful.

Update:  December 29, 2018
Thanks to Barbara who believes this is an Emerald Jumping Spider

Letter 8 – Dimorphic Jumping Spider

Subject: Spider?
Location: In kitchen
January 28, 2017 1:50 pm
What type of spider is this?
Signature: Any

Dimorphic Jumping Spider

Dear Any,
Since we do not know if you kitchen is in Albuquerque or Kuala Lumpur, we are not going to bother attempting to identify this harmless Jumping Spider beyond the family level Salticidae.

Sorry I am in north Texas

Update:  December 29, 2018
Thanks to Barbara who identified this female Dimorphic Jumping Spider which is pictured on BugGuide.

Letter 9 – Dancing Acraea caught in Communal Spiders Web: Could Insects Care Less about a name?????

Caught Dancing Acraea
Location: Masai Mara, Kenya
June 5, 2011 1:24 pm
Hi Daniel,
Thought you might like this picture of a Dancing Acraea (Hyalites eponina) caught in a Community Nest Spiders’ web (Stegodyphus sp.).
Judging by the worn out wings, I reckon the butterfly had been there for a little while, and the spiders did not seem interested in it. Stegodyphus spiders are generally quite small, but they feed communally. I wonder if this butterfly was just to big for them?
Signature: Zarek

Dancing Acraea in Spider’s Web

Hi Zarek,
Thanks so much for taking the time to properly identify your butterfly as a Dancing Acraea.  We were not familiar with this species, and we found a description on the Learn About Butterflies:  Butterflies of Africa website. 

We are somewhat confused as to its name.  That site indicates the scientific name is Acraea serena, but the Tree of Life website identifies it as Actinote serena, and the always questionable Wikipedia identifies it as Telchinia serena.  Biodiversity Explorer has wonderful information on the Communal Spiders or Social Spiders from the genus Stegodyphus.  We are going to tag this as a Food Chain image though you indicate this might not be truly accurate.

Hi Daniel,

Thanks so much for the reply.  My identification (Hyalites eponina)
came from my field guide to insects of southern africa and previous
knowledge.  I’ve looked through the websites you provide and they all
seem legit (except maybe wikipedia).
I’m not an expert myself, so I’ll try to get another opinion from a
local expert.
Here’s another ID:
Thanks again

Hi Zarek,
We believe two different things are at play here regarding the Dancing Acraea.  First, probably several closely related species might have the same common name, and secondly, some taxonomic revisions might have occurred and they are not being reflected in the online postings.

  One would think that a common name that refers to a specific genus would pertain to a member of that genus, and though the species in your photo might be Hyalites eponina, the common name Dancing Acraea being given to a species in a genus other than Acraea does not seem logical.  Alas, DNA analysis might be necessary to get definite confirmation.  The truth of the matter is that insects could care less if they have names.  Genetic diversity might eventually result in new species and subspecies, and our human obsession with names and categorization may not be able to keep pace with insect evolution.

Hahaha…  great reply.  I always thought that insects were very
involved in their own naming process, taking great time and care and
deliberation over both scientific and common names.
As a matter of interest, another source (Field Guide to the
Butterflies of Southern Africa) calls the Small Orange/Dancing Acraea
‘Acraea eponina’, just to confuse us even more.
I don’t want to start a grammar war, but the correct phrase you might
be looking for is “…insects COULDN’T care less….”.  Saying that
they “COULD care less” means that they do care a little and can care
less than they already do.

Saying that they could NOT care less means
that they do not care at all and therefore have no capacity to care
less than they already do.
Sorry.  This is 100% fan-mail.  I’m just playing into your hands!

Alas, we have no true editor on staff and all grammatical errors in our responses remain the responsibility of our self-censoring writing staff (of one).  You may also enjoy our handling of this anagrammatical faux pas from this past weekend.

17 thoughts on “Are Jumping Spiders Smart? Unraveling the Truth Behind Their Intelligence”

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  1. I can’t guarantee it was the same species, but when I was growing up in the L.A. area I encountered many jumping spiders similar to this specimen, none of which bit me. On a couple of occasions, though, male spider would start waving their front arms at me as if they were beginning their mating dance. Seemed friendly.

  2. I found a Johnson Jumping spider yesterday on the side of my house near some equipment covered with a tarp. Beautiful looking creature.

  3. They are very pretty
    I have a fantastic picture of a jumping spider that was on my car
    Please let me know if you would like me to submit it.
    Thank You

  4. They are very pretty
    I have a fantastic picture of a jumping spider that was on my car
    Please let me know if you would like me to submit it.
    Thank You

  5. This looks like an adult male Paraphidippus aurantius, the emerald jumping spider. Unfortunately, I am not able to enlarge the photo for some reason.

  6. Got a nasty bite from one the other day on my ankle while gardening. Saw it jump off. Took hours before wound mark appeared and four days for pain and itching to end.
    San Francisco Bay Area


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