Heliophanus is one of the most popular genera of jumping spiders. Like most jumping spiders, the Heliphanus belongs to the family Salticidae and displays most of the common characteristics of jumping spiders.
More than 170 described species of this jumping spider are believed to occur in Africa, with many others scattered around the Palearctic region from Europe down to Japan. Yes, we have come across different jumping spider species, but the Heliophanus displays some of the most unique characteristics we have seen among jumping spiders.
If you’re hyped about jumping spiders and want to learn more about the Heliophanus, you’ll want to keep reading as we have put together everything you need to know about the Heliophanus jumping spider.
What is their scientific name?
Almost all jumping spiders have a common name they go by, but unfortunately, since our leaper friends are a genus of jumping spiders, there isn’t a specific common name they go by.
That said, all species that make up these jumping spider genus are scientifically called, Heliophanus. Although many people have described this genus of jumping spider, the most accurate description of the Heliphanus we have come across was given by Eugene Simon in 1868.
For those interested in knowing what our leaper friends look like physically, you’re welcome to read further as we have put together everything you need to know about the Heliophanus as far as their physical description and size are concerned.
Physical description and size
Even though the Heliophanus looks very much like most jumping spiders we have come across, they spot some distinct physical features you’ll not find on many jumping spider species. And we will delve into all of that in a bit.
As per their size, Heliophanus jumping spiders are small to medium size. Plus, females of this jumping spider species are slightly bigger than their male counterparts. While males can reach a body length of about 3.6 to 4 mm, females come in at around 4.6 to 5.8 mm.
Besides their size, our leaper friends have quite a dominant dark to blackish bodies, with a conspicuous metallic sheen.
Adult females of this jumping spider species have palps that are somewhat yellow to light brown. More so, their palp contrast with their overall appearance. Additionally, the prosoma in females features white crossed lines behind their eyes. Furthermore, their abdomen looks a bit circled with white lines and white dots above.
Like their female counterparts, adult males of this jumping spider species have dark palps with very conspicuous white squamose hairs in front. Their tibial apophysis features a very fine, pointed, and long hook-shaped process.
Also, males have a black cephalothorax that is covered with white hairs and metallic black sheen. While some individuals have a single pair of bright spots close to the rear of their cephalothorax, others have 2 spots and more.
Overall, the Heliophanus jumping spider has long legs that are light yellow with multiple black longitudinal stripes. Even though some species have uniformly dark legs, most spiders that make up this genera have light yellow legs.
Again, they have an opisthosoma that looks grey-black with a touch of white hairs and a metallic sheen.
Where are they from?
Like we mentioned earlier, the Heliophanus jumping spider has a Palearctic distribution. Even though it is predominantly found in Africa, where more than 170 species of this jumping spider species have been spotted, our leaper friends have been spotted throughout Europe, except in Iceland, where they don’t thrive very well because of the extreme weather conditions.
Outside these locations we just mentioned, our spider friends have been found in Russia, North Africa, Turkey, China, Iran, and the Caucasus.
In great Britain, for instance, the Heliophanus jumping spider is reported to have a scattered description. This explains why they have been spotted as far as North and Central Scotland, where they have been described as coastal species.
Habitat and ecology
Our leaper friends have been collected from various habitats, including woodlands, coastal cliffs, grasslands, single beaches, and raised bogs. Plus, they are widely distributed across habitats like quarries and wastelands.
Within their respective habitats, the Heliophanus jumping spider is mostly encountered in drier locations. While they can be quite active on the surface, they are more commonly sighted within the litter.
In the Northern regions of Great Britain, our leaper friends have demonstrated a liking for sunny conditions. And when they are taken a rest, you’ll encounter them in silken cells constructed under stones or within the litter.
Our spider friends are excellent hunters who can fend for themselves in the wild. Using their superb vision, our leaper friends can stalk their prey and pounce on them with their devasting jumping skills.
And just like most jumping spiders, our leaper friends will eat small and large insects, including mosquitoes, flies, crickets, aphids, mealworms, ants, and many others.
What is their temperament?
Are you scared of their stern and intimidating look? Well, the good news is, the Heliophanus jumping spider is super friendly. While it may display aggressive tendencies towards prey, their first instinct is to get away when they encounter humans.
Because they aren’t harmful to humans and displays exciting antics, many spider enthusiasts don’t mind keeping them as pets.
Is it dangerous or venomous to humans?
Like most jumping spiders, the Heliophanus jumping spider has strong venom that can incapacitate its prey. That said, their venom isn’t harmful to humans. And except you handle them roughly or they feel threatened, they hardly bite.
Frequently asked questions
What happens when a Heliophanus bites you?
Although Heliophanus is venomous, its venom doesn’t cause any harm to humans. Plus, if you ever get bitten by this spider, the most you’ll experience is mild pain and slight irritations. And this usually disappears after some days.
Are they aggressive?
Jumping spiders are very aggressive towards their prey, but when they encounter humans, they are calm and friendly. And most times, their first instinct is to get away.
Can you keep them as pets?
Our leaper friends will make great pets because of their friendly demeanor, bright color, and captivating spider antics.