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Jumping Spider Habronattus spp.

The most diverse family of spiders worldwide, with over 5,000 described species, is the Salticidae, or jumping spiders. Few jumping spiders (none in Wisconsin) make webs to capture prey. Instead they use stealth and agility to leap upon and subdue their insect food. Like all spiders, they do make silk, though. They use their silk to wrap up their eggs into an egg sac, to make little "sleeping bags" to pass the night, and they trail a dragline behind them when they jump, so that if they miss they don't fall all the way to the ground. Jumping spiders are diurnal visual predators, they use their excellent eyesight to capture their prey. Their huge front middle eyes allow them to make out good images from several inches away, and their smaller rear eyes are used to detect the motion of potential prey. You can always tell if a jumping spider is looking at you (or your waggling finger) because they don't have necks, they have to turn their whole body to face the object they wish to view.

The species of Salticid shown above is in the genus Habronattus. There are over 90 species of Habronattus in North and South America, and like most species the genitalia must be examined to correctly identify each species. We know the individual in the photo is a male because of his enlarged pedipalps (the small appendages close to the head that look a bit like boxing gloves). Most Habronattus adults are only 5- 6 mm in length.

Like many jumping spiders, Habronattus species use their vision to select and court mates as well as to capture prey. The males (like the one here) have evolved elaborate coloration and ornamentation. Males rely on visual courtship displays ("mating dances") to entice females to mate with them. The females lack the bright colors and ornamentation and often are cryptically colored and blend in with their habitats. There are many species of Habronattus, and they all have slightly different coloration and mating dances.

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Last updated on May 9, 2014