Jumping spiders possess the unique ability to jump or pounce onto their prey. They are distinguished by their unique eye structure, usually composed of two rows. They will not typically infest homes – if you have spiders in the house, read our discussion on getting rid of spiders. Coupled with lightning fast attacks, the jumping spider is a formidable predator for many insects. When found indoors, it is likely because someone has left a door or window open. The bold faced jumping (daring) spider is a common species found in North America.
The jumping spider’s body shape can slightly resemble that of an ant (in some species), an evolutionary trait known as ant mimicry. The front legs of a jumping spider are exceptionally long, repeatedly waved about like antennae as a communicative signal. These legs are also waved about in complex courting behaviors to attract mates. The hind legs, third or fourth pair, are usually larger as well, designed for quick jumps. They have two rows of eyes, one row in the front and another across the top. Because there are so many species throughout the world, it is very difficult to provide a standard physical description – jumping spiders come in many different shapes, sizes and colors, so we have composed a list of the most common:
- Daring Jumping Spider, aka Bold Jumping Spider:
- Black, white spot or crossband located on abdomen. Located in parts of Canada, Mexico, Hawaii, and nearly every state east of California.
- Zebra Spider, Zebra Jumping Spider:
- Hairy with black and white stripes. Wide distribution throughout North America and Europe.
- Red Spider, Red Jumping Spider, Red Backed Jumping Spider:
- Furry red body and abdomen. Located in the Great Plains, parts of Canada and Mexico.
- Green Jumping Spider:
- Green body with white encircling the eyes. Found in Australia.
Jumping spiders prefer to inhabit leafy wooded areas, fields, and anywhere else there is good hunting. They will secure their egg casings beneath plant debris and other litter.
While most spiders use webbing to construct nests and hideaways, the jumping spider utilizes silk in much the same way a mountain climber uses rope. Securing one end of silk as an anchor, the jumping spider is able to pounce across complex terrain and vertical slopes without losing its orientation. This tether of silk is known as a lifeline.
Jumping spiders are equipped with a small poison gland which is used to swiftly kill its prey and powerful chelicerae (jaw like appendages for crushing prey). Some species are known to engage in cannibalism.
Like other hunting spiders, jumping spiders are equipped with excellent vision. Their speed and agility is remarkable.
A jumping spider bite will burn and swell but it is not life threatening. The burning comes from the tiny amount of poison the spider delivers upon biting, and the site may stay swollen for a few days. If you have been bit, sterilize the area with soap and water, consider taking an antihistamine to reduce swelling, and apply a cold patch for 30 minutes.