As October marches on towards November on its eight stubby legs here comes Issue 35 of Impurest’s Guide to Animals. Last week the incredibly tiny Nosy Be Chameleon emerged from the leaf litter. This week we have an even smaller animal that is just as cute as the little lizard in the Spotlight. Hope you enjoy.
Issue #35 Zebra Jumping Spider
Kingdom – Animalia
Phylum – Arthropoda
Class – Arachnida
Order – Araneae
Family – Salticidae
Genus – Salticus
Species – senicus
Related Species - Zebra Jumping Spiders are one of around 5000 species spread across 500 genus in the family Salticidae (1)
Range - The Zebra Jumping Spider can be found on stone walls and scrub land across the United States and Europe including the United Kingdom
Leap into the Unknown
Zebra Jumping Spiders are very small spiders (with an average body length of five to nine mm) with the females growing larger then the males. The abdomen of the spider is lined with black and white stripes, with those of the males being broader than the females. The most prominent feature of the Zebra Jumping Spider is the large eyes at the front of the cephalothorax, and the surrounding secondary eyes arranged around the front of the animals body. Despite effectively having stereoscopic vision the Jumping Spider uses image defocus to gauge distance, by using different wavelengths of light to build up a 3D image.
This imaging system is put to good use when hunting, the Zebra Jumping Spider doesn’t build webs, relying instead on actively hunting for its prey. When a food item, usually a small fly or mosquito, the spider will gauge the distance it has to cover and spin a silk safety line. From there the spider will launch itself, by altering the pressure of its body fluids (2), towards the prey item. If successful the spider will inject a mild venom and consume the prey in situ even if the target is twice the size of the predator.
Like all spiders the Zebra Jumping Spider is a cannibal and the male has to be cautious when he approaches the female. In order to signal his attentions the male will wave his front legs up and down and vibrate his abdomen when he meets a female. If she accepts the two will mate before the female leaves to lay her eggs in a silken sack. When the young hatch the female will protect the spiderlings until their second moult, where the young spiders will leave to fend for themselves.
Five Fun Zebra Jumping Spider Facts
Because their vision requires large amounts of light Jumping Spiders are mostly diurnal, often weaving purse shaped tents on the undersides of leaves to sleep in.
Red Light causes problems for Jumping Spiders, whose vision is geared towards the UV end of the spectrum, effectively blinding them.
The Himalayan Jumping Spider (Euophrys omnisuperstes) holds the title of the highest permanent animal resident on Earth, having been recorded at heights of 6700 meters above sea level (3)
Another Jumping Spider Bagheera kiplingi is the only spider species to feed predominantly on plant matter although most other species in the genus Salticidae will drink plant nectar (4)
Zebra Jumping Spiders use silk lines while traversing a vertical surface, effectively abseiling down jump after jump
1 - www.arkive.org
2 - Foelix, Rainer F. (1996). Biology of Spiders. Oxford University Press
3 - Wanless, F. R. (1975). "Spiders of the family Salticidae from the upper slopes of Everest and Makalu". Bulletin of the British Arachnological Society3 (5): 132–136.
4 - Meehan, Christopher J.; Olson, Eric J.; Reudink, Matthew W.; Kyser, T. Kurt; Curry, Robert L. (2009): "Herbivory in a spider through exploitation of an ant-plant mutualism." Current Biology1
1 - http://cdn.c.photoshelter.com/img-get/I0000bjODVfaEhvI/s/900/900/022-045.jpg
2 - http://www.domyownpestcontrol.com/images/content/zebra_spider_killing_fly_picture.jpg
3 - http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/naturelibrary/images/ic/credit/640x395/e/eu/euophrys_omnisuperstes/euophrys_omnisuperstes_1.jpg
And with that the Zebra Jumping Spider leaps away from the spotlight to get one last meal before sundown. Due to me be excessively busy last weeks issue came forward to this week, and the next, featuring the ‘Little Cow’ of the Sea of Cortez will be posted in a fortnights time. Until then comment, critic and request odd and amazing creatures or just check out past issues in the Bestiary of Past Issues.