The Bold Jumping Spider

Bold Jumping Spider

Bold Jumping Spider

Spiders are not my favourite critters…generally I prefer wildlife with six or fewer legs. However, I find some orbweavers to be quite pretty, and the large fishing spiders to be as fascinating as they are terrifying. I’m less fond of those that live in webs than those that don’t, as well as those with disproportionately long, bristly legs. Of all the different types of spiders out there (and there are many!), there is one group of spiders that I find quite charming….the jumping spiders. They have a cuteness that their larger, longer-legged, smaller-bodied cousins lack. It’s not just their small size and shape, which resembles the creepy-looking orbweavers and wolf spiders about as much as a hummingbird resembles a duck. Their appeal comes from the eyes, specifically the two central forward-facing eyes that make them look more like a Disney creature than a grotesque alien. Jumping Spiders have four pairs of eyes, the largest of which are in the center of the head and can move to focus on potential prey; the three small secondary pairs on the sides of the head do not move.

Jumping Spiders do not build webs; they hang out in vegetation, on tree trunks, under stones, and on buildings or fences where they watch for prey before pouncing on them. There are more than 6,300 species of jumping spider worldwide, making the Salticidae family the largest group of spiders. Most people in southern Ontario are probably familiar with the black-and-white striped Zebra Jumping Spider which is common in backyards around doors and windows. It has the most observations for Ontario in iNaturalist, followed by the Bold Jumping Spider. I had never heard of this species…until I found my first one at Andrew Haydon Park on June 24th.

Bold Jumping Spider

I first saw it as a strikingly black spider with white spots perched at the tip of a Common Milkweed leaf. I had never seen anything like it before, so I slowly approached it. Spiders that don’t build webs, such as crab spiders, can be hard to photograph. They often disappear beneath the leaf or flower they are sitting on when they sense you moving toward them, and jumping spiders with their exceptionally acute vision are no exception. It darted out of sight, but popped up again a few moments later before scuttling along the leaf toward the stem.

Bold Jumping Spider

The Bold Jumping Spider hunts alone during the day, locating potential prey with its keen eyesight. It feeds on weevils, flies, caterpillars, and even other spiders. In turn, it may fall prey to birds, lizards, and even dragonflies!

Despite being less than an inch long, it can jump a distance of 10 to 50 times its body length using its powerful hindlegs. While leaping, it releases a line of silk as a safety line in order to prevent falling. I managed to capture this webbing on camera:

Bold Jumping Spider

This species overwinters as a juvenile, hiding in a silk cocoon under bark or some other protected space where it goes dormant. Juveniles have orange spots on top of the abdomen, which turn white as the spider matures the following spring. A distinctive feature of this species is the metallic green chelicerae below the eyes – the chelicerae are pincer-like appendages that make up the jaws, and have fangs at the tips for piercing prey.

Bold Jumping Spider

I thought the Bold Jumping Spider was pretty neat, and was surprised to learn how common it is. I don’t see jumping spiders often enough (except for the Zebra Jumping Spiders in my backyard) to be able to identify them, but I like getting to know the ones that are around!


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