The Amazing Jumping Spider

Portrait of a jumping spider.
Portrait of a jumping spider. Photo © James Benet / iStockphoto.

Can you imagine what it's like to have eight eyes, eight legs, and the ability to jump fifty times your height in distance? If so, then you might have an idea of what it's like to be a jumping spider.

There are over 5000 species of jumping spiders which together make up the Family Salticidae. Jumping spiders have eight eyes: four large eyes on the front of their head, two tiny eyes on the side, and two medium-sized eyes on the rear of their head.

They also have well-developed jumping skills, enabling them to leap up to fifty times their body length.

Scientists believe that jumping spiders can see in color and that their visual abilities are as acute as human eyesight. With eyes on every side of their heads, a jumping spider's view of its surroundings may actually surpass our own.

Together acute eyesight and powerful leaping ability enable jumping spiders to be extremely effective hunters. In fact, they behave in a similar manner to cats, by first spotting and stalking prey from a distance and then, using their powerful jumping skills to catch prey off-guard and pounce in for the capture. Yet there the similarity to felines ends. The predatory spider's prey consists of other spiders and insects. Before pouncing on the prey, they attach a silk thread which serves as an anchor line, enabling them to climb back to safety if a target is missed.

Jumping spiders inhabit fields, woodlands, meadows, grasslands, and can even be found indoors on occasion. They do not spin webs but do create simple silk shelters in crevaces where they hide.

Jumping spiders are charming creatures, that when approached will turn and look at you. If you move, they often follow you with their gaze, changing body angles so as to always keep you well within the sight angle of one of their eight eyes.

Reference

Foelix RF. 1996. Biology of Spiders, 2nd Ed. USA: Oxford University Press