Sunday, September 20, 2009

I only have eyes for you

Jumping Spiders in the family Salticidae are the hairy, big eyed, furry black or brown spiders that commonly make it into our homes. They have a habit of crawling across our ceilings, making us wonder when they will dangle themselves from string right on top of our head. Some of these spiders can get quite large at around 3/4 of an inch. Now while that doesn't sound big, for spiders in this family it certainly is. They have four sets of eyes, and many accounts claim they have the best eyesight of any other spider, being able to spot insect prey up to a foot away. I would be hard pressed to argue that point, as I have found from experience they are extremely difficult to approach, they "see" you coming. Patience pays off when trying to photograph these spiders. Once you locate one, sit perfectly still and wait for it to reappear, move slowly, or you are sure to send it scampering again.
These spiders are common throughout all of North America including Alaska. They can be found in a wide variety of habitats including woods, gardens, yards and our homes. They will come to porch lights at night, apparently these are the lazy hunters. For these lazybones the insects at porch lights must be like an all you can eat bug buffet.
Males perform a very elaborate courtship display in which he rocks his body back and forth and waves his front legs in a highly specific manner designed to attract a female. If she finds his dance erotic enough, mating will occur. Once mated the female will lay her eggs in a silk lined shelter under rocks or other crevices. I know of at least one species that will lay her eggs in a silk-lined rolled leaf. They are very protective moms and will stay with their eggs and guard them.
These spiders carry the term scary to new levels, most spiders are hairy, they all have eight legs, all have fangs, and most all have venom. These spiders add the ability to jump, talk about intimidating, having one of these things jump at you can be unnerving. Thankfully, when I come across these little monsters they usually jump "away" from me.


  1. We LOVE 'Jumpers' =) We've had a particularly large on who made her home in our mailbox, and doesn't seem afraid of us at all. She'll look us in the eyes and advance aggressively, even though if you challenge her on it (put your finger nearby) she'll back up a few steps. What a great shot you got!

  2. LOL, I can't help but like them too. Those eyes are hilarious, they almost look like cartoon spiders. This genus must love mailboxes, I have one that resides in my mailbox each year. It always seem more aggressive than others I find. Thanks for the compliment, the upside down one took more patience than I knew I possessed..hehehe.