I found him in the cat litter bag. Doesn’t it look like it has a smiley face?
Based on those amazing eyes and its body shape, it is a jumping spider.
Jumping spiders wander around looking for insects. This one hadn’t made a good choice and got trapped. I scooped it into a handy container and carried it out to the garden (it is warm here). It watched me the entire time.
I couldn’t tell whether it was scared or hungry. What do you think?
A friend recently asked for some tips how to identify spiders.
1. Leg size and position
Often the length and position of the legs are easy to see and can give you a clue. Jumping spiders like this one have short legs that are tucked up under their bodies.
Crab spiders have 2 pairs of long front legs. They hold their front legs out to the side with the tips directed forward.
Feather-legged spiders also have extra-long front legs. They hold their first pair of legs directly out front of themselves and pressed together.
Wolf spiders have legs that are all roughly the same length and shape, as do a few other groups such as fishing spiders.
2. Web pattern
Some spiders are easier to identify by their webs.
Orb weavers (also called garden spiders) produce large complex webs, often across paths.
Funnel web spiders produce sheets of silk around a central, hollow retreat.
3. Eye Pattern
If you can get a good photograph from the front of the spider, the size and position of the eyes can aid in identification.
Let’s take a quick look at spider anatomy, in case you are not sure which is the front end.
Besides the legs, the other parts you see on the spider are the abdomen (body area covered with red arrows), and the combined head and thorax, called the cephalothorax (body area covered with yellow arrows). The two appendages that surround the mouth are the pedipalps. The pedipalps are at the front end of the spider, with the eyes. (Note: in newer scientific texts the abdomen may be called an opistosoma and the cephalothorax called a prosoma).
The eye patterns are distinctive and easy to recognize with a bit of practice.
Looking face on at a jumping spider you can see they have two large eyes in the front of their cephalolthorax and two smaller eyes on either side.
They also have two smaller pairs of eyes further back. See the dark, shiny eye about 1/2 way back on the cephalothorax?
In contrast, the crab spiders have a cluster of tiny eyes right in a oval at the top and front. The eyes in this spider are set into the orange-yellow colored area. You can hardly see the eyes in comparison with those of the jumping spider.
(Photograph by Thomas Shahan from USA licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license at Wikimedia.)
Wolf spiders also have two large central eyes, but have a downward-curving row of four eyes below them. They also have another pair further back, which you can just see as a dark curves.
After all the flies for the last few weeks, I thought it was time for a spider.
I found this little jumping spider, Family Salticidae.
I was hoping it would turn and look at me, because jumping spiders have such large eyes in comparison to the rest of their bodies; they are really dramatic. I don’t usually try to pose my subjects, so I guess the silvery abdomen will have to do.
The feathery front legs were interesting, too.
I don’t know my spiders as well as insects, so if someone knows what kind of jumping spider it is, I’d love to hear from you.