Jumping spiders are fascinating creatures known for their incredible ability to leap significant distances relative to their size. They belong to the Salticidae family, which is home to over 6,000 described species, showcasing a wide range of diversity in size and appearance.
These lively arachnids vary in size, typically ranging from 1/10 to 1/4 inches in length. For example, the daring or bold jumping spider, commonly found in South Carolina, features three white to red dots on its abdomen and falls within this size range. Another familiar species is the zebra jumping spider, often found indoors, sporting white stripes against a blackish-brown background.
Jumping spiders show impressive visual capabilities, making them successful predators in their respective habitats. A study conducted at Harvard involving the Menemerus semilimbatus species demonstrated that these tiny spiders can even identify biological motion cues, hinting at their complex visual system.
Jumping Spider Overview
Characteristics of Jumping Spiders
Jumping spiders belong to the largest family of spiders, Salticidae, which hosts over 6000 described species as of 2019, and are distinguishable by their small-to-medium body size covered with a dense layer of iridescent scales or hairs1. Key features include:
- Excellent vision with four pairs of eyes
- Incredible jumping ability, covering up to 50 times their body length
- Stout and compact bodies, typically 1/10 – 1/4 inches long2
- Vibrant, diverse colors and patterns3
Taxonomy and Species Diversity
Jumping spiders are classified as true spiders belonging to the phylum Arthropoda, class Arachnida, and order Araneae4. Their vast species diversity is exemplified by the following examples:
- Phidippus audax, known as the bold or daring jumping spider, frequently found in gardens and around homes3
- Habronattus pyrrithrix, displaying striking contrasts in coloration1
- Zebra jumping spider, commonly found indoors, characterized by white stripes on a blackish-brown background2
|Bold jumping spider||Phidippus audax||Gardens, homes||Black with irregular orange to white spot|
|Habronattus pyrrithrix||Habronattus pyrrithrix||Various||Striking contrasting colors|
|Zebra jumping spider||Salticus scenicus||Indoors||White stripes on blackish-brown background|
Jumping spiders not only showcase an impressive array of sizes, colors, and patterns, but also exhibit remarkable abilities to jump impressive distances and possess exceptional vision. They are a fascinating and diverse group within the Arachnida class.
Physical Appearance and Anatomy
Body Length and Size
Jumping spiders are small creatures, with body lengths ranging from 1/10 to 1/4 inches. The largest jumping spider in eastern North America, Phidippus regius, is aptly named due to its size1. Some examples of common jumping spiders are:
- Daring or bold jumping spider: three white to red dots on the abdomen3
- Zebra jumping spider: white stripes with a blackish-brown background3
Colors and Patterns
Jumping spiders exhibit a variety of colors and patterns, including:
- Black with distinct irregular orange to white spots5
- Iridescent green or blue on their cephalothorax4
- Stripes, spots, and other intricate patterns4
These colors and patterns aid in camouflage and attracting mates.
Eyes and Vision
Jumping spiders are known for their exceptional vision, thanks to their four pairs of eyes2:
- Two large, forward-facing principal eyes
- Two smaller, forward-facing secondary eyes
- Two lateral pairs of eyes for peripheral vision
Their vision is essential for hunting prey and navigating complex environments.
Habitat and Distribution
Jumping spiders are found all around the world. Some notable locations include:
- Tropical forests
- Temperate forests
Their adaptability allows them to thrive in various environments, from tropical forests and deserts to temperate forests and scrubland. One exceptional jumping spider, Euophrys omnisuperstes, even inhabits Mount Everest, at extremely high altitudes.
Types of Habitats
Jumping spiders are known for their ability to adapt to diverse habitats, examples as follows:
- Forests: These spiders often inhabit leaves, tree trunks, and branches in both tropical and temperate forests.
- Urban environments: They can also be found in houses, gardens, and other man-made structures.
- Deserts: Despite harsh conditions, some jumping spiders have adapted to thriving desert life.
Jumping spiders are quite versatile, making them a fascinating subject when examining their habitat and distribution. Their quick jumps enable them to navigate various environments, making them a successful species in different parts of the world.
Behavior and Hunting
Prey and Diet
Jumping spiders are carnivorous predators with a diverse diet consisting primarily of insects, but they are also known to occasionally consume other spiders. Some examples of prey they might hunt include:
Jumping spiders use their exceptional eyesight and stealthy movements to actively hunt their prey during the day. These hunters have eight eyes, which provide unparalleled vision, crucial for detecting and stalking their targets.
A notable feature of jumping spiders is their ability to leap impressive distances, which is useful in both hunting and evading predators. Here are some key characteristics of their jumping ability:
- They can jump up to 50 times their body length
- Their muscles and hydraulic systems propel them to great heights
Jumping spiders rely on their remarkable agility and do not produce venom to subdue their prey.
|Feature||Jumping Spider||Other Spiders|
|Hunting strategy||Active hunters||Mostly passive, using webs|
|Eyesight||Excellent, with eight eyes||Varies, generally not as sharp|
|Jumping ability||Can jump up to 50 times body length||Limited or none|
In summary, jumping spiders are skilled hunters known for their diverse diet, remarkable eyesight, and impressive jumping abilities. Their unique set of characteristics sets them apart from many other spider species.
Life Cycle and Reproduction
Courtship and Mating
Jumping spiders exhibit unique behaviors during courtship and mating. Males usually perform elaborate dances to attract females. These performances may include displaying bright colors, waving their legs, and vibrating their bodies. If successful, the male and female will mate.
Egg Laying and Development
After mating, female jumping spiders lay their eggs inside a carefully constructed silk sac. The number of eggs can vary greatly depending on the species. The eggs go through several developmental stages before emerging as spiderlings. As they grow, spiderlings will molt multiple times, shedding their exoskeletons to accommodate their increasing size.
Here are some important characteristics of jumping spiders’ life cycle and reproduction:
- Adult size: 1 mm to 23 mm (most between 5 mm to 10 mm)
- Male size: 8 to 9 mm (in some species)
- Female size: 8 to 10 mm (in some species)
- Reproduction period: fall to spring
Comparison of male and female jumping spiders:
|Size||8 to 9 mm (in some species)||8 to 10 mm (in some species)|
|Coloration||Sometimes brighter||Less vibrant|
|Role in courtship||Performs dances to attract||Observes male’s performance|
Pros and cons of jumping spiders’ reproductive habits:
- Elaborate courtship ensures successful mating
- Silk sac provides protection for eggs
- Male spiders must perform well to be accepted by females
- Silk sacs can be susceptible to predation if not well-hidden
Notable Jumping Spider Species
- Location: Southeast Asia
- Size: Females up to 18-19mm, males 10-12mm
Hyllus Giganteus is the largest jumping spider in its family. It is found in Southeast Asia and is known for having colorful patterns on its body. The size of Hyllus Giganteus varies between males and females, with females growing larger.
- Location: Southeastern United States
- Size: Females up to 15mm, males 10-12mm
The Regal Jumping Spider, or Phidippus Regius, is primarily found in the southeastern United States. Known for its striking color and bold patterns, this species can often be found in gardens.
- Location: North America, Europe
- Size: 5-7mm
The Salticus Scenicus is smaller in size but is well-known for its impressive visual acuity and ability to discern colors. This species is found in North America and Europe, commonly near human habitation.
- Location: Central and North America
- Size: 5-8mm
Bagheera Kiplingi is unique among jumping spiders as it exhibits a predominantly vegetarian diet. This spider can be found in Central and North American environments, feeding on nectar and plant matter.
- Location: Australia
- Size: 4-5mm
The Peacock Spider, or Maratus Volans, is known for its stunning display of color and courtship rituals. This small species hails from Australia and is remarkable for its ability to “fly” short distances due to leg flaps.
- Location: Europe, Asia, and North Africa
- Size: 5-9mm
Philaeus Chrysops is characterized through its bright colors and its ability to maintain its vibrant pigmentation in UV light. It can be found in habitats across Europe, Asia, and North Africa.
- Location: Worldwide
- Size: Up to 12mm
The Plexippus Paykulli is a pantropical jumping spider that can be found throughout the world. This spider demonstrates impressive agility and is known for being easily adaptable to various environments.
Unique Facts and Trivia
Jumping spiders are an incredibly diverse group in the animal kingdom, belonging to the family Salticidae which has over 600 genera and more than 6000 species. They’re known for their compact bodies and keen visual abilities, which contribute to their impressive jumping skills.
These arachnids have a fascinating brain-to-body size ratio. Despite their small size, ranging from 1/10 to 1/4 inches in length, they possess highly developed brains. As predators, they are also skilled carnivores, feeding on insects and other spiders.
Some unique features include:
- Eight eyes, providing them with great visual perception
- Silk thread production, which helps in creating safety lines
- Ability to jump up to 50 times their body length
One astonishing species is the Himalayan jumping spider, which can be found at elevations of up to 22,000 feet above sea level. This makes them the highest-living spider species.
Jumping spider species also have unique courtship rituals, with many engaging in intricate courtship dances. This behavior is especially striking in the Peacock Spider (Maratus).
A common type found in homes is the Zebra Jumping Spider, characterized by:
- White stripes on blackish-brown background
- Grey, stout body structure
- Ability to identify biological motion
Comparison of two common jumping spiders:
|Feature||Daring/Bold Jumping Spider||Zebra Jumping Spider|
|Size||6-19 mm (females), 6-13 mm (males)||1/10 – 1/4 inches|
|Color and markings||Black, with white/yellow/orange spots||Blackish-brown with white stripes|
|Habitat||Gardens, around homes||Indoors, urban environments|
With their unique abilities, jumping spiders provide valuable insight into the world of arthropods and continue to fascinate researchers and enthusiasts alike.
Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.
Letter 1 – Unusual Jumping Spider from the Philippines
Subject: Mystery bug in the Philippines
June 19, 2014 7:08 am
Spotted this bug here in the Philippines and was wondering if you might now what it is? Seems golden in body colour. Many thanks!
We wish your image had more detail. This appears to be a Spider, and our best guess is a Jumping Spider in the family Salticidae, however that is quite an unusual appendage at the end of the body. We have not had any luck finding anything that matches this spider in appearance, but we will continue looking around on the web.
Hi Daniel and Frank:
You are right, Daniel, it is a Jumping Spider. It looks like a species of Mantisatta (Salticidae: Ballinae), a small genus with only two species. Mantisatta trucidans lives only on the island of Borneo and M. longicauda is endemic to the Philippines. According to Wikipedia “The genus name is combined from mantis (because of the long first legs) and the common salticid ending –attus”. The front legs in Frank’s photo don’t appear especially long but it looks like they may be folded under or perhaps around something. In all other respects it looks very similar to M. longicauda. The species name (longicauda) clearly refers to the unusually long and tail-like abdomen. Regards. Karl
Letter 2 – Regal Jumping Spider in Tent
What’s she doing in there?
Wed, Oct 29, 2008 at 7:47 AM
I happened accross this little spider hiding this morning. I am in north central Florida (Branford) and we had our first freeze overnight. I was taking some photos this morning and found what looked like a cocoon but there was a spider hanging out of it. My curiosity has been working at me and I had to go back and coerce the spider out to learn a little more. I got it to come out and identified it as a female regal jumping spider. I have read that they do make tents but I can’t find any photos of their structure. Is this her tent or did she commandeer some poor cocoon to get out of the cold this morning?
We needed to research this tent making with regards to the female Regal Jumping Spider, Phidippus regius. We found images on BugGuide that showed a female in a tent in Orange County Florida. This tent is just a shelter for protection and probably helped your spider excape the frost. This is a highly variable species, and BugGuide shown numerous photos of the color variations. You should be commended on your identification.
Thanks so much for your response, I have admired your site for quite some time and I am pleased to be a part of it now. Aside from your site, I also get spider info from the book Florida’s Fabulous Spiders. That is where I found the ID for this spider. The Florida’s Fabulous Series is no substitute for good old field guides, but they are great for learning interesting facts about some common species. Thanks again for the info,
Letter 3 – Simon Asks: Do Mating Blues mimic Jumping Spiders?
Ed. Note: We think they do. Do you? Let us know.
Subject: Tanzanian butterfly
Location: Arusha Tanzania
April 8, 2013 4:35 am
What caught my eye with these Cacyreus lingeus is that I also saw a pair mating, and after a bit of maneuvering and jostling about, they settled down into the one position for about 5 to 10 minutes or so, and the pattern of the “eyes” on the wings of the joined butterflies, as well as the final configuration of both showed a distinct mimicry of a jumping spider.
In the brief research that I have done, I have not seen anything written anywhere of two separate insects actually using mimicry as a defense mechanism before, although they were still for quite a while so were fair game without some defense system.
Have attached the photo to see what you think?
That is an awesome and astute observation Simon. They really do look like the face of a Jumping Spider. Perhaps it is time for you to write a paper. We will be adding this photo to your original submission as well as making it a unique posting that is a feature.
Update: May 20, 2015
A long time reader, Curious Girl, just forwarded us this link to the Days On The Claise blog with a very similar theory.
Letter 4 – Spider Romance!! Courting Jumping Spiders, Phidippus species
two unidentified spiders
I have here two photos of different spiders. The male with the orange abdomen has eluded ID for too long! I happened to catch him while loving on his woman. He presented her with a grasshopper, and while she munched happily on her tasty treat, he got around to more importnat things. I managed to take a nice succession of photos, but this one had the best representations of both of them. I don’t need to tell you how awesome it was to witness this event. The second photo is a small spider with moderately long front legs, the first two pair I believe, found on the wall. He folded his legs up tight in response to my camera in his face, so I couldn’t get him to pose. I took these pictures West Texas this month.
How romantic is that Wendy?
We love your courting Jumping Spider photos and the story as well. Your Jumping spiders are from the Family Salticidae, probably the genus Phidippus, and possibly Phidippus formosus. Hogue writes: “The brilliant red abdomen of this species frequently attracts attention in the spring, when it is most active. … The Red Jumping Spider is not considered dangerous, although its bite may be painful to sensitive persons. Like all jumping spiders, it has a pair of very large eyes. This is a hunting spider and thus does not use a permanent web for trapping prey. … Both sexes spend the daylight hours wandering over the ground and vegetation in search of small invertebrates, upon which they may leap from some distance.” Your spider might also be Phidippus insolens, which exhibits dimorphism in both sexes, meaning that the males and females are differently colored as well as having different color variations within the sex. One form has a black cephalothorax and red abdomen like your photo. Your second photo might be a Domestic Spider, Theridion tepidariorum.
Letter 5 – Unknown Jumping Spider
Subject: What’s this jumping spider
Geographic location of the bug: Louisville Ky USA
Time: 06:28 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Hello, can you id this tiny jumper for me? About sesame seed size, found on mailbox in Louisville Ky onApril 17, 2019. Thank you
How you want your letter signed: Shelby
We are posting your image of a Jumping Spider in the family Salticidae, though we did not manage to quickly identify it. Perhaps one of our readers will write in with a proper species identification.
Letter 6 – Unknown Jumping Spider from Malaysia
Location: Ulu Belum, Perak, Malaysia.
January 3, 2013 8:16 am
Found this spider at Ulu Belum, Perak, Malaysia.
Can you identify it
We can tell by the eye arrangement that this is a Jumping Spider in the family Salticidae. See BugGuide and scroll down to the family for a diagram and examples of Jumping Spider eye arrangement. Your spider resembles this unidentified Jumping Spider on FlickR and this Jumping Spider on Fred Miranda’s website.
Letter 7 – Unknown Jumping Spider from western Washington may be Bronze Jumper
Subject: jumping spider of sorts?
Location: Western Washington state
August 4, 2016 11:43 pm
Found this in my backyard in western Washington state curious on what it is.
Signature: amber toro
Good Morning Amber,
You are correct that this is a Jumping Spider in the family Salticidae, but despite its distinctive markings, we have been unable to identify the species after scanning through all the genera on BugGuide. Perhaps one of our readers will have better luck than we have had with a species identification. Interestingly, as we were linking to BugGuide, we stumbled upon this image of the Bronze Jumper, Eris militaris, on BugGuide that looks closer than any other image we found.
Letter 8 – Unknown Spider from Austria
Geographic location of the bug: Austria (in house next to a forest)
Time: 01:21 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: I see them often at night, someone takes them outside for me when I see one but they keep reappearing…1. What are they? 2. Are they babies? 3. Do I have to be scared of a full nest? If not, why do they keep reappearing? What can I do to make them go away? (I am very sorry that I ask so many questions but I am really scared if them and just want them to go away)
How you want your letter signed: I don’t know what that means but I really don’t care
Dear I don’t know …,
There is not enough detail in your image to be certain, but upon enlarging the tiny spider in the purple circle, we believe this might be a harmless Jumping Spider in the family Salticidae.
Letter 9 – Zebra Jumper
Subject: Zebra Jumper
Location: Toledo, OH
October 23, 2014 3:40 pm
Fall is thoroughly set in over here in Toledo, and the bugs are getting harder and harder to track down and enjoy. This little guy was kind enough to hang around in the cold though for me to test my new macro lens on. Thought you might enjoy him!
Your images of this Zebra Jumping Spider, Salticus scenicus, are quite nice. We like the results of your new lens and we look forward to spring and new submissions from you.
Letter 10 – Zebra Jumper from Canada
Location: Parksville, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada
November 27, 2011
… The final one is of a jumping spider. Not technically bugs (or even insects!), but I thought I might send it in. All pictures were taken the same place as the skipper, along a rocky beach. …
Hi again Geoff,
We believe your Jumping Spider is a Zebra Jumper, Salticus scenicus, based on photos posted to BugGuide. We believe this is another new species for our website, and though we greatly appreciate the photo, we have an additional request. Our readership tends to desire information as much as they like to see nice photos. Since it is now probably very cold in Canada, we suspect your photos were taken earlier in the year or perhaps in some previous year. It would be very helpful to have that information. Also, it would be nice to get any information on behavior or unusual conditions that accompanied the sighting.
Letter 11 – Zebra Jumping Spider
Location: Chicago, IL
April 16, 2012 2:03 am
Just wanted to share this picture of what I believe is a Zebra Jumping Spider, after doing some searching on the internet.
We’ve been finding a bunch in our house! They are very pretty.
We agree with your identification of the Zebra Jumping Spider, Salticus scenicus. According to BugGuide it: “Seems to be an imported European species that is now widespread in North America.” Jumping Spiders are hunters that do not build webs. They have excellent eyesight.