Family Salticidae – Jumping Spiders

Family Salticidae – Jumping Spiders
Live jumping spiders macro photographed in
the wild at North American locations.
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Platycryptus undatus
Platycryptus undatus

Family Salticidae contains more than 5,000 species in 500 genera, making it the largest family of spiders.

Salticids, with rare exceptions, do not build webs to snare prey, they only spin small silken retreat webs for moulting or hibernation. When hunting, jumpers always trail a silken strand from their spinnerets. If they are disturbed, they will rapidly descend on this lifeline to the ground and out of sight, or if they miss their jump, they can climb the thread back to their previous perch. These little guys are very adept at hiding, and if they do not want you to see them, you won't.  You can find an extensive article on the family at the Tree of Life Website.

Phidippus johnsoni
This is a final-moult adult male Phidippus princeps

Jumping spiders have excellent vision, among the highest acuity in invertebrates. The eight eyes are grouped four on the face (the two big anterior median eyes in the middle, and two smaller anterior lateral eyes to the side), and four on top of the carapace. The two large, forward-facing eyes (AME) are tubular behind the lens, with a well-developed musculature, unique to salticids, that supports and moves the retina – the opposite arrangement of our own eyes. [1]

Jumping Spider Vision
Note: the function of the posterior medial eyes is unknown [2]

Spider musculature is also different from ours: in the spider, muscles operate from the inside to move external skeletal elements; our own skeletal muscles surround the elements they operate. But even these glaring differences are nothing compared to the jumping spider's brain and digestive system – their esophagus passes right through the brain, and one branch of the gut (analogous to our intestines) actually sits on top of the eyes and brain. [1]

Hentzia mitrata

Bold Jumping spider
Bold Jumping spider

Phanias species
Phidippus otiosus
Phidippus otiosus
Jumping spider's anatomical points of interest:

  • Esophagus passes straight through the brain
  • Portion of gut overlies the eyes and brain inside carapace
  • Heart extends from abdomen into cephalothorax
  • Leg muscles attached inside the carapace operate legs like marionette puppets
  • Jumping spider's brain volume to body size proportionate to human, but visual processing region is larger
  • Salticids move retinas inside the eyes to look in different directions, as the lenses are fixed in the carapace
Jumping Spider

When the male is ready to mate, he spins a small web and deposits 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. If he finds a female, he performs a courtship dance. If she proves receptive, he places his palp against an opening on the underside of her abdomen (epigynum), and locks it in place in a groove at the back. The palpus then expands and injects the sperm.

Although a jumping spider can jump more than fifty times its body length, none of its legs has enlarged muscles. The power for jumping comes from a quick contraction of muscles in the front part of the body increasing the blood pressure, which causes the legs to extend rapidly much as the hydraulics in a low-rider car.

This is a large adult male at 10mm Thiodina Sylvana [1]

Video of adult male jumping spider's courtship dance
Zebra Jumping Spider
Zebra Jumper
Dimorphic Jumper - Maevia inclemens
Dimorphic Jumper

Bronze Jumper
Jumping Spider
Phidippus mystaceus
Jumping Spider
Phidippus princeps
Jumping Spider
Phidippus clarus
H. palmarum
H. palmarum
Genus Habronattus is a large diverse genus of medium-sized salticids, primarily ground-dwellers and with highly ornamented males that perform complex courtship displays. Approximately 100 species are known, most from North America, the remainder in the neotropics.  Most are ground-dwelling on open ground with sparse vegetation, especially on rocks, dry leaf litter and sand. The arid southwest has many species, but Florida also has many species, and others are known above the Arctic circle and east to maritime Canada.For more information and links to the species, go to Habronattus.
Jumping Spider Tutelina
Genus Tutelina – Dendryphantines characterized by unusual chelicerae. Typically uniform colored, from gray or green to black, though T. harti is often mottled. Some species have a prominent V-shaped tuft of black hairs above anterior eye row. Some species, esp. T. formicaria, are reasonably antlike. Probably all specialize on eating ants. A closely related genus is Poultonella. The two share the unusual chelicerae. Somewhat similar in including mild ant-mimics that are sometimes metallic is Paradamoetas.


  1. Maddison, Wayne – Tree of Life Web Project,  "Salticidae: Jumping Spiders"
  2. Jumping Spider Vision David Edwin Hill, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported
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