5 fun facts on the secret lives of jumping spiders

With baby eyes, sparkly coloured chelipeds and all those adorable photos where they’re wearing raindrops as hats, you might be interested in jumping spiders for their looks alone.

But they’ve got a brain too guys. And some even have brightly coloured bum flaps.

And as the largest family of spiders, making 13% of all species, I think you need to know more about them. So here are 5 fun facts delving into the secret lives of jumping spiders.

Photo source: Wiki commons
Beauty and brains. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Thomas Shahan

1. Jumping spiders can have beautiful bum flaps 

And core blimey one of the best examples comes from my very own Australia. The endemic peacock spider (Maratus volans) reels in the ladies by un-tucking his opisthosomal flaps (bum flaps) from his abdomen and waving them at the females in an elaborate routine.

A bum flap may sound unappealing but their beautiful colours in combination with a party dance performance make for one magical moment for the female. She’ll watch attentively and based on the routine deem him fit for a one night stand or not.

In other jumping spider species the males have coloured eating arms to attract a mate. These chelipeds come in all different iridescent, gem stone colours and win over lovers just as well.

Peacock jumping spider Maratus volans
A male saying “hey ladies”. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Jurgen Otto

2. Jumping spiders have amazing vision

Maybe not surprising considering how big their eyes are, but actually most spiders have very poor eyesight. Not jumping spiders!

Despite looking like stuck on beads, their eyes are incredibly complex and unique amongst spiders. While you can see four of them on the front of their face, they actually have 4 pairs. That’s eight eyes altogether if you do some sums.

The remaining four are spaced evenly on either side of their head, giving them an almost 360° view around them. Their vision is so good, it’s unparalled in any other animal their size.

Jumping spider wiki 2
Look into my eyes. Photo: Wikimedia commons/Opoterser

3. Jumping spiders can hypnotise prey

Certain species of jungle jumping spiders known as Portia, appear to have hypnotic powers. By carrying out a series of monotonous, repetitive signals, they can draw the victim close or even keep them still while they move in to attack.

The effect has been described as ‘like putting the victim to sleep with a vibratory lullaby’… I don’t know about the vibrations but their cutie pie faces alone would definitely lull me into a false sense of security. It’s probably for the best they’re smaller than a finger nail.

Jumping spider with prey
You are feeling very sleeeeepy. Photo: Wikimedia commons/Ironman br

4. Jumping spiders are intelligent mimics

Portia also hunt other spiders by invading their webs and they do so through plain old lies and deceit. By making vibrations on the edge of the web, they mimic a struggling insect. This lures the unsuspecting spider over only to be lunged at and attacked.

More remarkable still is they will use trial and error to determine which patterns of vibrations prove successful for different types of spiders and remember this for their next attack.

Other species of jumping spiders have taken it a step further and have evolved to look and behave like ants. This helps them prevent being eaten by other spiders because if their smell is any indication of their taste, no one wants to eat an ant.

Photo source: Jeff Burcher
Nope, I’m an ant. Photo: Flickr/Jeff Burcher

5. Jumping spiders are good at jumping:

And that’s why they’re called jumping spiders.

But to elaborate, the lunging jump is a favourite attack method amongst jumping spiders and they have a neat way of going about it.

Before jumping they’ll leave a silk safety rope attached to whatever they’re resting on and let the silk spin as they jump forward. This ensures they’ll always have a safe landing by falling only as far as their silk line, and using it to crawl back up to safety.

Water hat

And that’s a wrap! These adorable spiders have a lot more going for them than their melt-your-heart faces let on. I had no idea what I’d find when I searched for ‘the spiders with raindrop hats’ and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

7 comments

    • Hey! All the pictures are under a creative commons license, so you can use them but you must credit them and link back to their source 🙂

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  1. Thanks for the story on jumping spiders. My son 5 yr old son is so into jumping spiders at the moment – so very topical for us:) Keep up the good work – the way you bring humour to science communication is gold.

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