The Zygoballus jumping spider is a distinct species of jumping spider with many things going for it in terms of physical description, distribution, taxonomy and much more. To start with, this species of jumping spider naturally occurs in the southeastern parts of the United States where they have been sighted in a variety of grassy habitats.
This spider’s adult species aren’t very big compared to other jumping spider species because they measure between 3 and 4.5 mm in length. Plus, both males and females of this species feature an abdomen and cephalothorax that are bronze to black, with their legs having a reddish-brown to yellow markings.
Even though males of this jumping spider clan have very distinct chelicerae, and front femora, they typically display the ritualised courtship behaviour common among most jumping spiders.
What is their scientific name?
If you know anything about jumping spiders, then you’ll know that our furry friends usually have a general name they are called. However, in the case of our leaper friends we are looking at, they are commonly referred to by their scientific name, Zygoballus sexpunctatus.
Their unique scientific name is derived from the Latin word sex, which loosely translates to “six” and punctum, meaning “spot, “ which refers to the distinct six spots that typically occur on the male species’ abdomen.
But their name isn’t all that they have going for them, stay with us as we take you through other impressive details about the Zygoballus jumping spider and why they are such an exciting jumping spider to behold.
Physical description and size
When it comes to their physical description, Zygoballus jumping spiders boasts of physical features that make them easy to identify.
To start with, the female species of this jumping spider measure between 3.5 to 4.5 mm, while their male counterparts come in at 3 to 3.5 mm. This description in size is based on observation by arachnologist B.J. Katson.
On the flip side, Peckham’s earlier description shows that the females of the Zygoballus jumping spider measure 3 mm while their male counterparts measure between 3 to 4.5 mm. Although their cephalothorax appears bronze to black, the cephalothorax looks box-like in shape and is widest at the posterior lateral eyes.
Additionally, the Zygoballus jumping spider features numerous white to pale blue scales on their clypeus and chelicerae. And just so you know, this covering extends all through their carapace and ends just beyond the posterior median eyes.
The males have a labium that is two-fifths as long as their maxillae. While their chelicerae are greatly enlarged, each of their chelicerae features a prominent inner tooth with an accompanying curved fang.
Overall, the Zygoballus has reddish-brown legs, which can sometimes be yellow. Additionally, their femora appear darker and enlarged, especially among males of this jumping spider species. Adult males have a single tibial apophysis which slightly and gradually tapers. Although their abdomen is bronze to black, it features a white basal band and two transverse bands. To wrap up their physical description, females of this species are best distinguished by their epigyne’s look.
Where are they from
Even though the Zygoballus extends its range from Florida to New Jersey and down to the west of Texas, it is most commonly sighted in southern states. It was reported that Hentz collected his first original specimen in North Carolina.
In his report, Peckhams stated that the species had been spotted and collected from Texas, Mississippi, North Carolina and Lousiana.
As per habitats, the Zygoballus jumping spider has been collected from multiple ecosystems including river terrace, old fields, Slash Pine forests, Florida Sand Pine scrub, rice fields and Appalachian grass balds.
In another report, Robert and Betty Barnes stated that this jumping spider species naturally occurs in the broomsedge fields. Because they like to hang out in the open, our furry friends have been typically spotted in the herb stratum (among short plants and grasses).
Adult males of the Zygoballus jumping spiders are known to display elaborate courtship behaviours. When males approach their female counterparts, they like to raise and spread their first pair of legs. This is closely followed by the vibration of their abdomen. To reciprocate the call to mate, females usually vibrate their abdomen too, a signal males recognise as a call to mate.
Amazingly, the specific patterns of courting behaviour displayed by males vary between individuals. For instance, adult males exhibit ritualised agnostic behaviour when they encounter males of the same species. This behaviour includes almost the same elements as courtship. During agnostic behaviours, males are likely to extend their fangs and pedipalps. That said, vicious attacks between males are rare.
Like other jumping spiders, the Zygoballus jumping spider is an opportunistic hunter who will feed on a wide variety of prey. While it typically prefers small insects like flies, mosquitoes and aphids, it can take on much larger insects like crickets, butterflies and more.
What is their temperament?
The Zygoballus jumper is generally friendly and doesn’t pose any immediate threat to humans. Even though our leaper friends are carnivorous by nature and will viciously feed on their prey, they tend to shy away from humans.
Because of their bright colours, exciting spider antics and the fact that they are friendly, many spider enthusiasts will enjoy raising them as pets.
Is it dangerous or venomous to humans?
Jumping spiders may look beautiful and exciting to watch, but guess what, our leaper friends aren’t scared to bite. Plus, their venom is strong enough to incapacitate their prey. That said, their venom isn’t harmful to humans.
Frequently asked questions
Are Zygoballus jumping spiders aggressive?
Because of their friendly nature, the Zygoballus jumping spider isn’t considered a threat to humans, and that’s because they may likely run away from humans than attack. Their aggressive behaviour only comes alive when they spot prey or predators alike.
How long do they live for?
One thing that is consistent among all jumping spider species is that they have a very short lifespan. Given this fact, it’s easy to see why the Zygoballus only lives for six months to one year.
What do they eat?
The Zygoballus jumping spider is an opportunistic hunter that will feast on small and large insects like mosquitoes, flies, butterflies, crickets and even web-building spiders.