Bug of the Day: Jumping Spider

Above: A regal jumping spider at rest between jumps. UF/IFAS photo by Lyle Buss.

Even if you don’t like spiders, you have to admit that jumping spiders are kind of cute (possibly even very cute).

Florida is home to a few species of jumping spiders, including the regal jumping spider, the gray wall jumping spider and the pantropical jumping. These spiders range from eight to 18 millimeters in length (most will easily fit on a dime) and they all have large front eyes that give it an alert, inquisitive expression (you almost forget it has six smaller additional eyes). These jumping spiders come in various colors and have a hairy appearance.

But perhaps the most important feature of these spiders are their jumping abilities. Jumping spiders don’t build webs to catch food, but jump from surface to surface ready to pounce on their prey. Their big eyes and color vision—a rare trait for an invertebrate— help them spot their next meal.

Lucky for us, jumping spiders like to hang out in man-made environments, where they eat pests such as flies and mosquitoes.

More jumping spider facts:

  • Jumping spiders are also called salticids. This name comes from the Latin word saltare, which means to jump or dance.
  • Since they don’t build webs, they don’t leave cob webs for humans to clean up.
  • They aren’t afraid to go after bugs twice their length. Watch out crane flies!
  • Both the gray wall jumping spider and the pantropical jumping spiders are found in the southeastern U.S. and South America. The gray wall jumping spider is also found in California.

Learn more about Florida’s jumping spiders at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in315 or http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in309.