Jumping Spider Identification Tips

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picture of a male bold jumping spider

In terms of numbers of species, jumping spiders constitute the world’s largest spider family (Salticidae). Over three hundred jumping spiders inhabit North America, many in residential areas. Here’s a primer on jumping spider identification.

Small in size, their binocular eyes represent their defining physical feature. The four eyes across the forehead is the best tip to offer for anyone who wants to know how to identify jumping spiders.

Larger jumping spider bodies grow up to three-quarters of one inch in length. The video shows a small brown jumping spider with some faded markings. It’s possibly a Bronze Jumping spider (Eris militaris ).

Rather than presenting an encyclopedic account of North American jumping spiders, the review focuses on three types of jumping spiders, those in the Phidippus genera, vegetarian jumping spiders and the so called wall jumpers that tend to mark residential walls as their territory.

Phidippus Jumping Spiders

picture of jumping spiders

Phidippus jumping spiders, perhaps the most common jumping spiders to inhabit residential areas, can often be identified using body color.

Most Phidippus species tend to show dark, banded legs, with shades of black, brown, red or yellow on the cephalothorax and abdomen.

Green jaws (chelicerae) characterize the Bold Jumping Spider (Phidippus audax) pictured at the top of the page. Common in residential areas, both males (black bodies) and females (brown bodies) can often be found indoors during cold weather.

The four Phidippus species in the picture provide a good starting point for homeowners interested in identifying the spiders on their property.

Many jumping spider species inhabit limited areas. Phidippus arizonensis, the first picture in the composite, lives in the Southwest, from Arizona, east to Texas.

Male body color varies, however they tend to show small spikes of head hair, both good, initial field identification clues.

The second picture in the composite is Phidippus borealis, a jumping spider that lives in the Northern boreal forests, including Canada. Species tend to have black patterened abdomens.

Red bodied Phidippus species also inhabit most areas of North America.

Phidippus clarus, the third picture in the composite, lives in residential areas from coast to coast. Males tend to have patterned, red abdomens, and females tend to have brown abdomens.

The final picture in the composite, the Regal Jumping Spider, (Phidippus regius) is a large eastern species. It often show up in Southeastern homes and gardens, especially Florida.

Females body color ranges from brown to gray, with male body color generally darker than females.

A white patch and abdominal stripes also help with identification.

Vegetarian Jumping Spiders

Most accounts of jumping spiders include a few words about their carnivorous dietary habits. Recent research, presented at a couple of scientific conferences during the summer of 2008, introduces the novel idea of a vegetarian jumping spider.

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.

Wall Jumping Spiders

picture of a wall jumping spider

The name wall jumping spiders suggests they live on walls and consequently populate many residential areas.

In fact, wall jumping spiders (genus Menemerus) consists of over sixty different species distributed mostly around the tropical and subtropical areas of the world. With only a few native species, they are much less common than the Phidippus jumping spiders.

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.

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.