|Jumping Spider - Phidippus princeps|
Family Salticidae - Jumping Spiders
Live adult male jumping spider photographed at Ogle County, Illinois.
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Jumping spider vision allows complex communications such as the elaborate courtship dances that males perform. Salticids are perhaps as old and diverse as mammals, though not many humans know their world. Many salticids are colorful, they take on a variety of body forms, and some have disguises, looking like ants and other organisms.
Jumping spiders are small to medium in size, stout-bodied and short-legged, with a distinctive eye pattern. The body is rather hairy (pubescent) and frequently brightly colored or iridescent. Some species are antlike in appearance. The jumping spiders forage for their prey in the daytime. They approach prey slowly and, when a short distance away, make a sudden leap onto the unfortunate animal. They are good jumpers and can leap many times their own body length. 
|Jumping spider's anatomical points of interest:|
Male jumping spiders have an unusual method of inseminating their mates: they use the little "feelers" beside the face - in females, these palpi are simple and leg-like; both males and females use them like little hands, to manipulate food and to clean their faces. But adult male palpi are larger and much more complex (that's one way to tell a male spider: adult and sub adult males have the palpi swollen, like boxing gloves).
The male prepares to mate by spinning a small web and depositing a drop of sperm on it from the underside of his abdomen. He then places the tip of the palp into the sperm, and draws the sperm through the palp's opening into the sperm duct where it is stored. He then goes cruising. If he finds a female, he performs a courtship dance for her, during which she assesses his fitness. If she accepts him, he places his palp against an opening on the underside of her abdomen (her epigynum), and guides it into place by putting a thumb-like projection, the tibial apophysis, into a groove in her epigynum. The palpus then expands, locks in place, and injects the sperm. 
Class Arachnida / Order Araneae: Spiders are the largest group of arachnids. They are easily recognized by their eight legs, and there are few creatures great or small that elicit such irrational fear in mankind. The vast majority of spiders are completely harmless and offer beneficial services, chief of which is keeping the burgeoning insect population in check. I am continually amazed at the resourcefulness of these supremely successful predators.
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