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The jumping spider family (Salticidae) contains more than 500 described genera and about 5,000 described species, making it the largest family of spiders with about 13% of all species. Jumping spiders have good vision and use it for hunting and navigating. They are capable of jumping from place to place, secured by a silk tether. Both their book lungs and the tracheal system are well-developed, as they depend on both systems (bimodal breathing).


Jumping spiders live in a variety of habitats. Tropical forests harbor the most species, but they are also found in temperate forests, scrub lands, deserts, intertidal zones, and even mountains. Euophrys omnisuperstes is a species reported to have been collected at the highest elevation, on the slopes of Mount Everestmarker.

Jumping spiders are generally recognized by their eye pattern.


Jumping spiders are generally diurnal, active hunters. Their well developed internal hydraulic system extends their limbs by altering the pressure of body fluid (blood) within them. This enables the spiders to jump without having large muscular legs like a grasshopper. The jumping spider can jump 20 to 60 or even 75 to 80 times the length of its body. When a jumping spider is moving from place to place, and especially just before it jumps, it tethers a filament of silk to whatever it is standing on. Should it fall for one reason or another, it climbs back up the silk tether.Jumping spiders are Scopula bearing spiders, which means that they have a very interesting Tarsal section. At the end of each leg they have hundreds of tiny hairs, which each then split into hundreds more tiny hairs, each tipped with an "end foot". These thousands of tiny feet allow them to climb up and across virtually any terrain. They can even climb up glass by gripping onto the tiny imperfections, usually an impossible task for any spider.

Jumping spiders also use their silk to weave small tent-like dwellings where females can protect their egg, and which also serve as a shelter while moulting.

Jumping spiders are known for their curiosity. If approached by a human hand, instead of scuttling away to safety as most spiders do, the jumping spider will usually leap and turn to face the hand. Further approach may result in the spider jumping backwards while still eyeing the hand. The tiny creature will even raise its forelimbs and hold its ground. It might even jump on the hand. Because of this contrast to other arachnids, the jumping spider is regarded as inquisitive as it is seemingly interested in whatever approaches it.


spiders have very good vision centered in their anterior median eyes (AME). Their eyes are able to create a focused image on the retina, which has up to four layers of receptor cells in it (Harland & Jackson, 2000). Physiological experiments have shown that they may have up to four different kinds of receptor cells, with different absorption spectra, giving them the possibility of up to tetrachromatic color vision, with sensitivity extending into the ultraviolet range. It seems that all salticids, regardless of whether they have two, three, or four kinds of color receptors, are highly sensitive to UV light (Peaslee & Wilson, 1989). Some species (for example, Cosmophasis umbratica) are highly dimorphic in the UV spectrum, suggesting a role in sexual signaling (Lim & Li, 2005). Color discrimination has been demonstrated in behavioral experiments.

The principal eyes have high resolution (11 min. visual angle) [36150], but the field of vision is narrow, from 2 to 5 degrees.


Jumping spiders are active hunters, which means that they do not rely on a web to catch their prey. Instead, these spiders stalk their prey. They use their superior eyesight to distinguish and track their intended meals, often for several inches. Then, they pounce, giving the insect little to no time to react before succumbing to the spider's venom.


Although spiders are generally carnivorous, there are some jumping spiders which include nectar and pollen in their diet and one species, Bagheera kiplingi, which feeds primarily on plant matter. None are known to feed on seeds or fruit. Plants such as the partridge pea offer the jumping spiders nectar through extrafloral nectaries, and in return the spiders help to protect the plant by killing and eating insects that might damage it.


Male Phidippus clarus in courtship posture
Jumping spiders use their vision in complex visual courtship displays. Males are often quite different in appearance than females and may have plumose hairs, colored or iridescent hairs, front leg fringes, structures on other legs, and other, often bizarre, modifications. These are used in visual courtship in which the colored or iridescent parts of the body are displayed and complex sideling, vibrational, or zigzag movements are performed in a courtship "dance". If the female is receptive to the male she will assume a passive, crouching position. In some species, the female may also vibrate her palp. The male will then extend his front legs towards the female to touch her. If the female remains receptive, the male will climb on the female's back and inseminate her with his palps.

A 2008 study of the species Phintella vittatain in Current Biology suggests that female spiders react to the male reflecting ultraviolet B light before mating, a finding that challenges the previously held assumption that animals did not register ultraviolet B light. In recent years it has been discovered that many jumping spiders may have auditory signals as well, with amplified sounds produced by the males sounding like buzzes or drum rolls.

Email hoax

A taxon of this family, the Telamonia dimidiata has been used for many years by an email hoaxer to scare people into checking under toilet seats at restaurants and onboard airlines because he/she claims that a person who is bitten while using the toilet will show no symptoms initially but then drop dead suddenly a few days later. (The Telamonia dimidiata is in fact considered to be a harmless spider).

See also


  1. Rebecca Morelle, " Study sheds light on spider sex", BBC News, 2 May 2008.
  2. Damian O. Elias et al. "Seismic signals in a courting male jumping spider" (retrieved 11 July 2008)


  • (1953). How to Know the Spiders, Dubuque, Iowa.
  • (1954). The Life of the Spider. Mentor.
  • (1982). Vision and prey-catching strategies in jumping spiders. American Scientist 70: 165-175.
  • (1982). The behavior of communicating in jumping spiders (Salticidae). In P. Witt and J. Rovner (eds).Spider Communication Mechanisms and Ecological Significance, p. 213-247. Princeton, New Jersey.
  • (1989). Spectral sensitivity in jumping spiders (Araneae, Salticidae). Journal of Comparative Physiology A 164: 359-363.
  • (1992). A review of the ethology of jumping spiders (Araneae, Salticidae). Bulletin of the British Arachnological Society, 933-37.
  • (1997). A Field Guide to Spiders & Scorpions of Texas. Gulf Publishing Company. Houston, Texas. p.127.
  • (2000). 'Eight-legged cats' and how they see - a review of recent research on jumping spiders (Araneae: Salticidae). Cimbebasia 16: 231-240 PDF
  • (2000). Learning and discrimination of colored papers in jumping spiders (Araneae, Salticidae). Journal of Comparative Physiology A 186: 897-201.
  • (2003). Seismic signals in a courting male jumping spider (Araneae: Salticidae). Journal of Experimental Biology 206: 4029-4039.
  • (2005). Extreme ultraviolet sexual dimorphism in jumping spiders (Araneae: Salticidae). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 89: 397-406.
  • (2005). Salticidae. pp.205–216 in D. Ubick, P. Paquin, P. E. Cushing, and V. Roth (eds.) Spiders of North America: an identification manual. American Arachnological Society.
  • (2009). Jumping spiders (Araneae: Salticidae) of the Ndumo Game Reserve, Maputaland, South Africa. African Invertebrates 50 (1): 13-103.[36151]

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