|The jumping spider is found throughout the
northern hemisphere. It has acute vision and can look 360 degrees around
its body without moving its head. The jumping spider gets its name from
the way it leaps toward its prey with great speed, rather than trapping
it in a web. Some of the most colorful spiders are contained in this group.
It has distinctive white bands across its black abdomen.
Habits: The jumping spider is active during the day, mainly in warm, sunny weather. It lives in houses and gardens, but mountain climbers report sightings as high as 23,000 feet above sea level in the Himalayas. This spider finds a safe hiding place and spins itself into a silk cell for the night, emerging when temperatures rise the next day. During cold weather, the spider stays in its silk cell until conditions improve. Although solitary by nature, the jumping spider is curious and does not appear to be timid. Still, when disturbed, the jumping spider runs away. Sometimes it stops and stare at its pursuer.
Food and Hunting: The carnivorous (meat eating) jumping spider eats flies, tiny moths, ants, and beetles. Most other spiders wait for prey to become entangled in their web. But the jumping spider uses its keen eyesight to stalk its prey. It creeps closer, leaping the final few inches from a standing start, and grabs the prey with its front legs. It then injects the prey with poison from its fangs. With its good vision, the jumping spider can accurately leap forward, sideways, and backward. Before jumping, the spider spins a short line of silk and attaches it to its waiting spot. If it misjudges the target, it remains safely suspended from the line.
Breeding: Like most other spiders, the male reaches sexual maturity before the female. He courts the female by raising his front legs and abdomen, dancing and waving his large chelicerae (jaws) to attract her attention. The sexually excited male sometimes mistakenly dances in front of a male, which results in harmless sparring. When hunting for a mate, the male often finds a female wrapped in silk, molting (shedding her skin) for the last time before becoming sexually mature. The male joins the female and mates with her after she molts.
To mate, the male spider spins a small rectangular web and deposits sperm onto it. He dips his palps (short, leg like appendages near his mouth) into the sperm, filling them up like a fountain pen. He then transfers the fluid into the female’s body. The female spins a large silk cell, lays the eggs inside, and fertilizes them with the sperm. Then she guards the cell until the eggs hatch. Young spiders undergo a series of molts before taking on their adult form.
Naturewatch: Jumping spiders can be found on the ground or in bushes in gardens or parks on warm days. Approach them carefully because they run away when disturbed.
Features of the Jumping Spider:
Did You Know: Male jumping spiders will
perform their mating displays to their own mirror reflections.
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