Common Name: Jumping Spider
Latin Name: Phidippus
Common Family Name: Jumping spiders
Latin Family Name: Salticidae
Other Names: Over 300 species of jumping spiders, in at least 40 genera, occur in North America.
Origin: These beneficial spiders are native to the United States and Canada.
Biology: Jumping spiders are hunting spiders, using their silk for lining their abode, covering their eggs, and as a “drag line” behind them as they walk about. While many of them are capable of biting humans if they were treated roughly or trapped in clothing, jumping spiders generally are harmless, with venom of no particular consequence to people or pets. They are medium sized, very colorful, and very active spiders, found wandering over walls or floors as they hunt for and feed on other arthropods we consider pests. For spiders they have excellent eyesight, seeing well from up to 18 inches with their greatly enlarged eyes that face directly to the front. These are primarily diurnal spiders, needing the light to see their prey, and in addition to their stealthy movements forward and backward they also have the ability to leap up to 20 times their body length to escape a threat. There are 8 ocelli on jumping spiders, with 2 pairs of small eyes on the sides of the top of the cephalothorax, and 2 pairs facing front on the flattened “face” of the spider, often with the center two eyes tremendously enlarged.
Identification: While there is some diversity in their appearance, due to the large number of species, jumping spiders in general are stout, hairy spiders with short, strong legs. The top of the abdomen often has colorful hairs of red, orange, yellow, or white, and some males may have brilliant iridescent green or blue chelicerae (the jaws). It is the enlarged middle front pair of eyes that distinguishes these interesting spiders.
Characteristics Important in Control: There is no reason to kill jumping spiders, as there benefits as predators far exceed any minimal hazard that someone may be bitten. If they occur indoors they should be captured and released outside. Prevention of flies and other insects indoors will reduce food availability to the spiders, and cleanup of debris outside will reduce potential harborage sites.