The Zygoballus jumping spider is a distinct species of jumping spider with many things going for it in terms of its 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 and are a very rare spider to find in the wild.
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 boast 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 a 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.
The distinguished jumping spider is found in a variety of habitats, including grasslands, heathlands, and moorlands, as well as urban areas such as parks and gardens. They are most commonly found on low vegetation, such as grasses and shrubs.
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. They will approach a female and perform a series of complex movements and If the female is receptive, she will signal her willingness to mate, and the male will transfer his sperm to her using his pedipalps.
After mating, the female will lay her eggs in a silken cocoon, which she will guard until the spiderlings hatch.
The Distinguished Jumping Spider Prey
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, moths, beetles and more.
They are active hunters, using their keen eyesight to spot and stalk their prey, and their impressive jumping ability to catch it.
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.