Family Salticidae – Jumping Spiders

Family Salticidae – Jumping Spiders

Bold Jumping Spider - Phidippus audax

The bold jumping spider Phidippus audax is one of the largest and certainly one of the most frequently encountered of the Salticids. Their active lifestyle, conspicuous dark-colored body, and frequenting of the flower or vegetable garden environment brings them to the attention of casual observers and gardeners of all stripes.

They will rapidly wave their pedipalps in front of their iridescent green chelicerae while staring you down – and the tiny light show is visually breathtaking!

color photo P princeps female in silken retreat

Phidippus princeps females love to sit in their curled-over leaflet silken retreats and refuse to come out and play.

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

Jumping spiders, with rare exceptions, do not build webs to snare prey – they only spin small silken retreat webs for moulting or hibernation.

color photo jumping spider Hentzia mitrata

Hentzia Mitrata – This tiny hunter has caught an even tinier lace bug. The spider is only 4mm (about 1/8 inch) long

Jumping spiders have excellent vision, among the highest acuity in invertebrates. The eight eyes are grouped four on the face  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]

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

Phanias species

Phanias species female jumping spider Size=8mm

color photo Jumping Spider Colonus sylvanus

This is a large male jumping spider at 10mm  Colonus sylvanus

Maevia inclemens

Dimorphic Jumping Spider – Maevia inclemens is a colorful spider I find charming and peaceful – until they are not. Hate to be a fly or moth in this vicinity.

Bold JumperYou can see this spider is trailing two silken draglines, each from a different spinneret. The spinnerets can point in different directions.

I saw a jumping spider leap from an elevated perch onto a passing moth, capture it in mid-air and swing down while hoisting her self back to where she leapt from with her silken lifeline. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes . .

Jumping Spider - Platycryptus undatus male

Platycryptus undatus male  out and about on the rocks near a small pond.

Phidippus johnsoniThis is an adult male Phidippus princeps

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.

H. palmarum
H. palmarum

Phidippus otiosus
Phidippus otiosus

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

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.

Jumping Spider Tutelina

Genus Tutelina – Dendryphantines characterized by unusual chelicerae. Typically uniform colored, from gray or green to black. Some species are reasonably antlike. Probably all specialize on eating ants.

I started this page in 2002. blah blah blah ok boomer lol


  1. Maddison, Wayne – Tree of Life Web Project,  “Salticidae: Jumping Spiders
  2. Jumping Spider Vision David Edwin Hill, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported
  3. Other references are presented on individual species pages

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Tree Encyclopedia / North American Insects & Spiders

Online since 2002