Round loving eyes and furry legs, no, we’re not talking about your four-legged friends. Jumping spiders are notoriously cute and can be found at all corners of the globe, but before you think about keeping one, we ask, are jumping spiders dangerous?
They’re a diverse bunch, and the largest family of spiders made up of 6,380 individual species. When we speak about jumping spiders, it’s in very broad terms, but there are some cross-species similarities that make these impressive jumpers easy to identify.
They’re a force to be reckoned with, sharing extraordinary eyesight and hunting abilities. But should you avoid them? And what should you do if a jumping spider bites you? This guide answers those all-important questions and more. Tiny but mighty, there’s a lot to say about the humble jumping spider. So let’s get into it.
Are jumping spiders dangerous?
First things first, depending on the genus of jumping spider, or Salticidae as they are officially known, most leaping arachnids carry venom. But with over 600 known genera of jumping spiders and over 6,000 species, their poison and trait vary.
The Phidippus Audax is the most common jumping spider in North America. Often called the “bold jumper,” it belongs to a group of easily identifiable jumping spiders with relatively large bodies and iridescent mouthparts. Many also have bright warning patterns on their back.
But don’t be alarmed. While these markings are usually nature’s way of warning prey of deadly venom, the poison carried by a bold jumper is mostly harmless to humans. In fact, jumping spiders aren’t dangerous on the whole, and their venom will only slightly irritate your skin if they do bite, which they’re unlikely to do.
Does a jumping spider bite hurt?
Although predatory by nature, jumping spiders are friendly when it comes to interacting with humans. The chance of getting bitten is low, but does a jumping spider bite hurt?
Jumping spiders are known to flee rather than attack, unlike their more formidable arachnid counterparts, the black widow and brown recluse spiders. Still, most jumping spiders are poisonous, but they carry venom in minimal doses that won’t cause much harm to humans. If threatened, crushed, or trapped, biting spiders can bite to defend themselves, and the after-effects will vary.
A jumping spider bite is only likely to sting momentarily at the site of an attack. This stinging pain can feel more severe for some people but is a lot less excruciating than the sting from a wasp or hornet. A jumping spider bite can cause a slight swelling, itching, and redness for several hours. These symptoms should have subsided entirely within a day or two, but if not, this could be the sign of an infection or allergic reaction.
The most extreme allergic reactions will be evident immediately, with abnormal pain and swelling occurring at the site. Still, jumping spider bites are unlikely to cause an anaphylactic shock like other venomous bites or stings might. If intense symptoms persevere, your supposed spider bite could be the work of a different species altogether.
Why do jumping spiders stare at you?
The round beady eyes at the front of most jumping spiders’ heads are their characteristic feature, making them easy to identify. The large glossy eyes are what make people refer to jumping spiders as “cute,” and it can look like they’re staring right at you. But their eyes actually have a far more important purpose than for puppy-dog looks.
Jumping spiders’ forward-facing eyes give them phenomenal stereoscopic vision, along with the six other eyes on the sides of their heads. This means they have an exceptional perception of depth that aids them when stalking prey. Jumping spiders are natural-born hunters despite the minimal threat they pose to humans. They have some of the best vision among arthropods and use it for navigation and courtships on top of hunting.
Jumping spiders track and study their prey, with the ability to stare, turn, and follow their victims. They also use their impressive vision to determine if something is suitable prey, taking in their subjects’ size, movements, and potential threat. So, when jumping spiders stare you down, they could be assessing whether you’d make an excellent next meal rather than being cute.
Eery right? Wrong. Jumping spiders are intelligent creatures, and their eyesight rarely fails them. A jumping spider won’t take long to conclude that you are not worthwhile prey. They would much rather feast on crickets and small insects and do not incline to hunt humans. This isn’t Eight-Legged Freaks.
But just because they’re hunters doesn’t mean there isn’t any level of cuteness to their seemingly adoring stares. It’s believed that jumping spiders have a great memory and can even remember their owners or frequented faces, so they might be looking at you from familiarity or in expectation of being fed.
How big can a jumping spider get?
With thousands of species of jumping spiders, their appearances vary. But as opposed to tarantulas and even house spiders, jumping spiders are characteristically small. Males usually reach six to eight millimeters in length, and females are eight to ten. Most have a stout, hairy body and shorter bent legs than other common house spiders.
Many jumping spiders are black with white spots on top, but some North American Phidippus Audax spiders are black with red warning markings, despite being mainly unharmful to humans.
The most giant jumping spiders are found in Europe, with some females reaching as long as 13 millimeters. The largest species of jumping spiders are called Maripissa Muscosa, and among this category are Fencepost Jumping Spiders. They are often found on fallen branches, stone walls, trees, and garden fence posts in the UK.
Fencepost Jumping Spiders are distinguishable by their slender, flat abdomens, and they nest in groups. Because of their larger size, their known to feed on other spiders, even those more significant than themselves, because their fantastic vision and pouncing abilities make them formidable predators.
Do jumping spiders jump on humans?
The easiest way to recognize a jumping spider is, of course, their explosive leaps and ability to propel themselves from surface to surface. But do they jump on humans? And what should you do if you find a jumping spider hurtling towards you at full speed?
Jumping spiders lack extensor muscle, so their legs are powered by the pressure creature when blood is rapidly pumpped into them from the cephalothorax, otherwise known as the unique fuses head and body of these spiders. By suddenly straightening their backs and legs, they can leap great distances to catch prey or escape danger.
Jumping spiders also often spin a little silk to set an anchor before they leap, helping with accuracy and stabilizing their flight. But their well-developed internal hydraulics, due to their ability to alter the pressure of their body fluid, results in very precise and sudden launches.
Jumping spiders are characteristically shy and likely to see humans as a threat. This means they’ll scurry or leap away when you approach, but they can well jump at you and land anywhere on your body or clothes, whether they’re using you as a vantage or resting point. Still, there’s nothing to worry about as they won’t bite unless threatened, and leaping toward you isn’t a sign they see you as prey.
Where do jumping spiders live?
Even though they’re timid and likely to be scared of humans, jumping spiders are not uncommon in areas humans inhabit. From sunny garden fences to fallen tree trunks and even quiet corners of your living spaces, jumping spiders can survive almost anywhere they can find prey and seek peace and safety.
Still, they can be found all over the world, with the exception of Antarctica. While they frequent residential areas and temperature countryside all over North America and Europe, they also crop up in remote corners of tropical rainforests, grasslands, scrublands, and even deserts.
Jumping spiders are active during the day and seem to like the sun, but at night, they hide in tightly woven nests under barks, stones, leaves, and often in groups of other jumping spiders.
Why are jumping spiders so cute?
Jumping spiders have eight round beady eyes, but it’s the unique placements of their two most prominent eyes and their disproportionate size to their bodies that make them look cute. These eyes are close together and forward-facing. They dwarf their other eyes in comparison and make jumping spiders look unlike arachnids at all. Their eyes give them the look of perpetual surprise but also curiosity and adoration.
How far can a jumper spider jump?
A one or two-inch jumping spider, the average length across the species, can jump around 25 inches or two feet. Their leaps are used for hunting prey and escaping danger, and their unique ability to change their fluid pressure sends blood to their legs to propel them great distances.
What is the lifespan of a jumping spider?
The average lifespan of a jumping spider is around one year, but this can be longer if they live indoors and away from predators. This is more than many spider species because of their unique hunting abilities. The lifetime of a spider averages around ten months, but some females can survive up to two or three years. The oldest recorded spider was an Australian trapdoor that was thought to have survived 43 years before being killed by a wasp.
Do jumping spiders can personalities?
There’s evidence suggesting that jumping spiders have different personalities and interindividual variations. While most are friendly and docile, some can be incredibly aggressive, and scientists suggest this determines what kind of hunter they’ll be. Unlike humans, those believed to be aggressive proved the fastest and least likely to sacrifice accuracy in their split-second decisions. While the “friendlier” spiders opted for smaller, slower prey.