Jumping spiders are basically the largest group of spiders on the planet, with over 6,000 species. They can be found in various habitats across the world except for the north and south poles. These spiders get their name from the impeccable jumping skills they possess which is a useful tactic when hunting prey.
They also have great vision and can see as far as 45 cm. There is definitely a lot that you don’t know about the jumping spiders including the largest types of jumping spiders. In general, these particular spiders are larger in size but they also have different types. This means some types are larger than others.
Phidippus Audax – Bold jumper
The bold jumping spiders otherwise referred to as the Phidippus audax mainly occurs in North America. This is the species of spiders people commonly encounter in and around their homes. The spiders are large-bodied and have pretty good eyesight thanks to the 8 eyes they possess. The two eyes facing forward are basically the largest of all and when you look at the spider, they are the ones that stare back at you. That said, their keen eyesight is not just for staring at you. They need it for hunting and pouncing on their victims with accuracy as well as courting.
The female bold jumping spiders measure about 8 to 15mm in length, while the males are anywhere between 6 to 13mm. These spiders have hairy bodies. The cephalothorax and abdomen are all black with some little white hairs. The middle part of the abdomen has a large triangular-like white spot with two smaller posterior spots. The large spots can either be white, yellow or orange. The spiders have powerful hind legs that are used to propel their bodies into a huge leap.
The one thing people often fear about spiders is that they are poisonous. This particular species is venomous but the bite is not potentially harmful to humans. The venom they produce is not strong enough to cause any significant complications in a human. In that case, you don’t have to be afraid of these spiders as they are incapable of causing harm.
Jumping spiders have a reputation of being quite good dancers. With this species, the male begins courting a female in preparation for copulation.
There is actually a species-specific courting display involving movement of the forelegs, the chelicerae and palps. The male begins courting by lifting certain legs and showing off his colored spots. The bold jumping spiders grow to maturity in spring and then mate in the late spring or early summer. After mating, the female produces several egg sacs over the summer. Each of the sacs may contain 30 to 170 eggs.
The jumping spiders prefer breeding in the warmer climates because the survival rate is higher at this time. The females create a silk shelter for their eggs and guard them until they eventually hatch. The spiderlings will disperse after hatching.
Behavior and communication
The bold jumpers prefer to hunt alone mainly during the day and use their keen vision to observe prey. The spider then sneaks up on its prey and pounces on its unsuspecting victim. An interesting fact about these spiders is that they don’t just jump haphazardly. They release a line of webbing that will act like security.
The invaluable tool of the bold jumpers is their strong visual acuity. They mainly locate prey and predators using their vision. Furthermore, visual communication is key in reproductive behavior. For instance, males use visual signals like lifting legs to attract mates. The jumping spiders are carnivores and eat a variety of insects. They also eat other spiders.
Phidippus regius – Regal Jumping Spider
The Phidippus regius, also commonly known as the regal jumping spider is a species of jumping spiders found in eastern North America. It’s among the largest species of jumping spiders you will encounter in North America. It’s true that many people are afraid of spiders, but the Phidippus regius are the kind of jumping spiders you’ll simply love. As a matter of fact, they are commonly kept as pets.
The adult male regal jumping spiders range from 6 to 18mm in body length, while the females fall between 7 to 22mm. Mostly, the females are larger in size than the males but it’s not a rule.
It’s easy to differentiate the males from the females because they have distinct features. For instance, the males usually have black and white colorations together with green or blue fangs. The females, on the other hand, have black and white or brown and bright orange colorations depending on the locale. In addition, the males typically have green mouthparts (chelicerae), while for the female it’s pinkish in color.
Habits and habitats
The Phidippus regius can be found in fields and woodland habitats. The adult regal jumping spiders are also often seen on the walls of buildings. Since it’s a jumping spider, it’s expected they use excellent vision to locate prey and their potential mates. Typically, they catch prey by jumping on it, hence the family name jumping spiders. Unlike other types of spiders, they don’t make webs to catch prey but they do use silk. What these spiders do is trail a line behind them to ensure they don’t fall in case they miss a jump.
This species of jumping spiders is common in the Peninsular Florida. On first impression, it’s a fairly large, black hairy spider that people often confuse with the black widow. However, the black widow is a smaller, shiny black spider that’s not noticeably hairy. This jumping spider is basically harmless but if threatened its capable of delivering quite a painful bite. The bite itself is not a medical threat and the stinging sensation will most likely subdue in a few minute. It’s easy to tame this spider and pet it.
The males court females by doing a dance in which leg fringes are displayed. The adult males often cohabit with subadult females in order for mating to occur. A cohabiting male soon mates with a subadult female after she matures. The females of this jumping spider species make silken nests under tree barks in which they lay eggs. The cracks and spaces in the old houses also provide a good enough shelter for the nests. The female is capable of laying up to four batches of eggs with the first batch containing about 183 eggs. The number of eggs declines with each of the successive batches.
The Phidippus regius feeds on a wide variety of arthropods. The smaller, juvenile regal jumping spiders like to feed on mainly the diphtheria. The adults prefer to go for the large orthoptera and hemiptera.
The Paraphidippus aurantius is another species of the jumping spiders that’s also known as the emerald jumping spider. It’s among the large-sized jumping spiders and tends to be more of a solitary creature. It occurs in various areas across the United States like Virginia and Maryland. The females are generally larger than the makes with a body length ranging from 8 to 12 mm. The males have a body length that ranges from 7 to 10 mm.
The emerald jumper male has basically white side stripes on the sides of the head area and a white border round the top of its abdomen. On the other hand, the females possess brown colorings with orange details. Both show a shiny, metallic green coloring on its abdomen when light reflects off of it. You can’t miss the bold, round eyes on the face that seem to look at you.
Similar to the other members of the Salticidae family, the emerald jumper can leap across long distances. This is their key weapon for pouncing on the unsuspecting prey and launching a silent attack. These spiders have the best eyesight and you might even feel like its scrutinizing you. That being said, the emerald jumping spiders are among the friendly spiders and are barely aggressive towards people. But if they feel cornered, the spiders can bite to protect themselves. The bite might sting a little but it’s not anything serious and will heal itself after a short while.
This species is known to hide in corners and cracks of building and some old houses. You can find it in the rural areas and also in the suburban wooded locations. Additionally, they are commonly observed in the fall as they crawl on the exterior or interior of buildings.
Their impeccable vision is vital in courtship. The males display courtship dances including zigzag movements and sideling. If the female approaches quickly, the male leaps away to avoid being eaten. But if she assumes a passive, crouching position, the male will mate.
Salticus Scenicus – Zebra Spider
The Salticus scenicus is named the zebra spider due to its fashionable black and white stripes. It is a common jumping spider with a particularly large pair of eyes it uses to locate and stalk prey. This species of jumping spiders is native to Europe but can be found throughout North America.
The zebra spiders are a terrestrial type of spiders, mainly found in the urban areas. Most of the time, you will see them on the vertical surfaces like the walls, window panes and fences. They can also be found in the meadows and gardens.
The zebra jumping spiders are relatively smaller than the other species with an average length that ranges from 4 to 7mm in size. The females are larger than the males. They have about four stripes on the abdomen. The ones at the base of the abdomen are complete whilst those in the middle are basically broken or narrow. The males have a more elaborate striping pattern on the legs.
These spiders have eight eyes; two pairs at the front row and another one pair in each of the other rows. The eyes located at the center of the first row are quite large and provide binocular vision. Another feature of the zebra jumping spiders is their hairy bodies. They actually have cushions of hair on the legs and feet. The spiders need these hairs to increase surface area of the feet and also boost the adhesive forces. This allows the spiders to stick and walk on vertical surfaces.
The zebra spiders are a solitary species of spiders and like to wander from one place to the next. They don’t build webs but drag a silk line when hunting prey. The non-sticky silk is used as an anchor while hunting to prevent the spider from falling off. They are diurnal creatures often spotted hunting in sunny areas.
Aggressive behavior is portrayed between males if they meet during courtship. When males come face to face, they raise and lower their front legs in threatening movements. In that case, the most aggressive male wins.
Like other jumping spiders, the zebra spiders rely on their remarkable jumping skills to catch prey. The large eyes also help by allowing the spider to form actual images and sense any fast movements. It bites the prey to immobilize and eat it easily. Additionally, the zebra spiders are active predators and feed mainly on the insects. Their primary prey includes mosquitoes and flies. However, they can also feed on the smaller spiders and may eat members of their species.
Jumping spiders do have courtship rituals that involve the male performing for the female. Keep in mind, the courtship ritual relies on the good eyesight because it’s visual. The stripped markings on the male are used to attract females. The male spider dances in a zigzag pattern while making some movements using the front legs and abdomen. All the female does is to watch the dance and if she accepts the male suitor, she crouches down.
The zebra spiders typically breed in spring and early summer. The female keeps her eggs in a cocoon that’s spun from silk. She then guards the eggs until they finally hatch. These spiders also stay with their young at least until the second molt.
Since these spiders are the smaller type of jumping spiders, they are unlikely to cause harm. Their bite can’t cause any serious injury or a medical threat.
Menemerus bivittatus – Gray Wall jumper
The menemerus bivittatus, also called the gray wall jumper is a pantropical species of jumping spiders mostly found on the walls of buildings as well as on tree trunks. It particularly likes the tree trunks because this is where it stalks and captures most of its prey.
This species of jumping spiders has a dorso-ventrally flattened body, covered with short dense and often greyish-white hairs. Typical of jumping spiders, they have large forward-facing eyes that have tufts of dark brown bristles. The female gray wall jumper is basically slightly bigger than the male and most of these spiders tend to be about nine millimeters long. The male has a somewhat black longitudinal dorsal stripe with a brownish-white stripe on each side of the abdomen. The chelicerae are black and white.
The female, on the other hand, takes on a browner color and has a larger abdomen. The carapace consists of two black bands as well as a thin white stripe. The abdomen is made up of broad black stripes on either side that unite at the posterior end. The legs are paler than those of the male gray wall jumper. Juvenile spiders tend to resemble the female.
Behavior and reproduction
The female gray wall jumper lays about 25 to 40 eggs in a silken, purse-like case and then deposits the egg sac in a crack or any other concealed place. Afterwards, she guards the eggs and waits for them to hatch in a period of about three weeks. The spiderlings disperse upon hatching.
All gray wall jumpers feed on mainly the small insects found on walls and tree trunks. They stalk prey and ultimately launch an attack by jumping on the victim. Their large eyes can focus on far away objects and even detect different colors. This type of jumping spiders actually has high visual acuity which is not common for all spiders. They use their highly coordinated jumping skills to capture prey and move from one place to the other.
Courtship is essential for the male gray wall jumpers. The males possess a stridulatory apparatus consisting of a couple of long bristles on the palpal femur and horizontal ridges on the outside of the chelicerae. When the spider rubs these ridges up and down against the palpal teeth, a sound is produced. This is thought to be a courtship display by the male meant to get the females attention.
In America, this species of jumping spiders is often observed in Texas, Florida and California. Its mainly spotted near the man-made structures like buildings.
How to care for jumping spiders
There is no doubt some people fear spiders but there are others who find these tiny creatures cute enough to be kept as pets. Before you can keep a jumping spider as a pet, it’s very important that you know how to care for it.
Spiders are small and delicate and this means you have to take good care of them. Jumping spiders are among the friendliest types of spiders and that’s why people think they make for good pets. With that said, take note of these tips on catching and caring for a jumping spider.
Catching a jumping spider
Jumping spiders can be found pretty much everywhere including in our homes. When indoors, they prefer to spend time near sunny windows. Outside, you will mostly find them on brick walls and fences. These spiders prefer sunny days because it warms up their muscles and as a result of it, they can move faster.
The best way to catch a jumping spider is using a cup or small container. Use one hand to hold the cup in front of the spider and, then try to coax it to get into the cup with the other hand. Don’t grab the spider or pick it up directly as this might upset it and cause it to bite you as a reflex.
Setting up a home for the spider
Get a big enough container for your spider which will allow it room to play around and exercise. Jumping spiders need plenty of space to practice their jumps and also to run fast. Furthermore, ensure the container is well ventilated by making some holes in it. Though the holes should be small to prevent the spider from escaping. You also need to provide sunlight but just enough and not too much.
Feeding your spider
You should feed your spider an insect at least every two to three days, even though most can survive for a week without eating. But not every insect is a suitable meal for your jumping spider.
For instance, avoid hard-shelled beetles and ants. Instead, feed your spider mostly flies and small crickets. Avoid crickets that are too large for the spider to tackle. To feed your jumping spider, simply drop an insect in its cage and wait for it to be pounced upon and eaten.
Watering your jumping spider
Your spider needs only very small droplets of water and nothing more. Avoid too much water or your spider could drown. What you have to do is get a misting bottle, and squirt a small mist on the side of the cage every few days. This will be enough for the spider.
What eats a jumping spider?
The most common predators of spiders include birds, wasps, toads and lizards. In addition, one species of jumping spiders can eat another species in the same family or even members of their own.
How big can a jumping spider grow?
The adult jumping spiders can grow to a size that ranges from 4mm to 18mm. The females tend to grow bigger in size than the males.
Jumping spiders are among the largest types of spiders on the planet. They are also the friendliest spiders that are less likely to bite unless mishandled. Furthermore, they are all round and chances are you have come across one or more species of the largest jumping spiders.