Jumping Spiders - Salticidae
If any spider can be called cute, it's the jumping spider, family Salticidae.
World side, jumping spiders constitute the spider family with the most documented species, over 4,000. Over three hundred native species call North America home.
While the number of species is high, the size of individual jumping spiders measures at the smaller size end of the scale. Most would easily sit on a fingernail.
The binocular eyes account for most of the cuteness factor, and it represents the best, first field identification clue. Many Salticidae species also have very colorful bodies.
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Types of Spiders
To date, no definitive answer exists with respect to the world's largest jumping spider.
Many species measure less than one-half inch in length. The larger species reach three-quarters inch in length (not including legs).
Phidippus, a genus of some larger and more colorful jumping spiders, rank among the most common Salticidae species found in North American homes and yards.
Other species, the subfamily Synagelinae, for example, resemble ants more than they resemble spiders. However, a close up view of a Synagelinae species will also show the characteristic binocular eyes.
Sight, the jumping spider's most important sense, helps them with their hunting strategy, which consists of sitting still on low leaves, branches or even stones looking for a meal (insects and other spiders). Once spotted, the jumping spider literally jumps on it.
While they do bite, many species are so small that their bite feels more like a pinch. They are not poisonous.
Nonetheless, the Bronze Jumper can be found from coast to coast in both the south and the north.
The Menemerus genus consists of over sixty different species distributed mostly around the tropical and subtropical areas of the world.
Gray Wall Jumper (Menemerus bivittatus), one of two native Menemerus species, lives near southern residential areas, principally Florida, Texas and California.
The name almost tells the casual observer everything they need to know about the species. It is a dull color species often found on wall.
The top picture shows a female. The bottom picture shows a male with a bold stripe down the abdomen.
Another wall jumper, the Zebra Jumper (Salticus scenicus) listed third in the picture, lives around most North American residential areas.
Very small in size, the dark and light stripes on the abdomen account for the name.
Thiodina sylvana, the bottom picture, a common Southeastern species, grows a it larger than the average native jumping spider.
The thin, striped abdomen and red head make the male fairly easy to identify. Females have lighter brown bodies with the abdominal stripes.
The vegetarian species, Bagheera kiplingi, is a fairly common Central American and Mexican species, that until now, received little notice except among jumping spider specialists.
Accacia trees are thought to be the spider's preferred habitat, and specimens were videotaped on the tree, living on a diet consisting primarily of Accacia leaves and nectar.
The video also shows the jumping spiders occasionally feeding on an ant species that lives on the trees, so evidently there is still a part of the mythical Kipling panther in the Bagheera kiplingi.
The links in the box point to a handful of Salticidae species, with an emphasis on those species belonging to the Phidippus genus.
© 2006-2013. Patricia A. Michaels.