The Jumping Spider belongs to the Family Salticidae. There are over 250 species of Jumping Spiders found in Australia with the greatest number being found in the tropical regions of Queensland. In China, the Jumping Spider is known as the Pussy Cat Spider, due mainly to the tufts of hair that sometimes grows on the front of the spiders’ cephalothorax (head area), which gives them a catlike appearance.
The main characteristics of the Jumping Spider is its great jumping ability and its excellent eyesight. The spider catches its prey by leaping onto its unsuspecting victim. The spider can jump as far as 20cm from a flat surface due to special muscles connecting the leg joints. The spider uses its third and fourth pair of legs (rear sets of legs) for jumping and its front pair of legs to grab its prey. The spider also has claw tufts (scopulas) protruding from its legs which allows it to climb smooth, vertical surfaces. The Jumping Spiders have excellent vision and their eyes are arranged to give them a 360-degree vision. The spiders have eight eyes that are set into three rows of four, two & two. Their front pair of eyes are very large. They are much more long-sighted than other spiders.
The Jumping Spider doesn’t build a web but lives in a silken nest, built between leaves or bark. Their home is usually open at both ends and is used during the night and the cold seasons. In the spring and summer months, the female spider will lay and guard her eggs in the nest. When the spider jumps it will leave a safety line of silk (dragline) which enables it to crawl back to its original position if the jump fails. The line of silk also prevents the spider from falling too far down from the plant or tree which it is hunting on. The silk is released from the spinneret located at the end of the spider’s abdomen.
Food and Predators
The jumping spider is a confident little creature and will often hunt in broad daylight. The spider hunts and feeds on small insects and mosquitoes during the day and retreats to its home at night. The spider is often territorial usually claiming a location for itself. One of the major predators of the Jumping Spider is the Mud-Dauber Wasp.
Friend or Foe ?
Generally, Australian Jumping Spiders are non-toxic to humans. However, if you read below there is one particularly nasty one living in Australia. Jumping spiders are generally curious creatures. I use to have one living in my office and every now and again it would appear near my computer and just watch me. Needless to say, they are one of my favourite spiders.
Facts About The Jumping Spider
The largest Jumping Spider in Australia is the Northern Green Jumping Spider and can be found in northern New South Wales. The female is the largest, measuring 18mm and the male is a little smaller at 12mm. This spider also happens to be the only Jumping Spider in Australia that is harmful to humans. The Northern Green Jumping Spider has been known to bite humans, causing painful swelling and sometimes an ulcerous slow-healing sore. There have been no recorded deaths from this spider’s bite.
The jumping spider belongs to the Family Salticidae. Salticidae is derived from the Latin word salto meaning ‘to dance with pantomimic gestures’.