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Jumping Spider

A picture of a Jumping Spider (click to enlarge)
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Photo by:
Stephen Dalton/Photo Researchers, Inc.
Jumping Spider, common name for any of a group of hunting spiders that can leap 10 to 40 times their body length. With over 4000 described species, they comprise the largest family of spiders. Jumping spiders are particularly diverse in tropical regions, but occur in habitats ranging from rain forests to above the timberline on Mount Everest in the Himalayas. More than 300 species have been described in the United States.

Jumping spiders are usually less than 2 cm (less than 0.8 in) in length with females generally larger than males. They are among the most ornate of spiders; many species are brightly colored and strikingly patterned, with stout bodies, short legs, and a very large pair of eyes on the front of the face. The jumping spider has four pairs of eyes, with the large principal eyes giving it sharper vision than any other animal of similar size. It can identify prey, predators, and mates from up to 30 cm (up to 12 in) away.

The jumping spider is an active predator, usually hunting during daylight. It will stalk to within a few body lengths of the prey, crouch, crawl slowly forward, and then lift its front legs and pounce. It accomplishes its spectacular jumps by means of muscular contractions in the body that force body fluids into the legs, causing the legs to extend rapidly. Most jumping spiders feed on insects, while others feed primarily on web-building spiders.

The male's front pair of legs are colored and have distinctive bands of hair. In many species the male performs complex courtship displays in which he bobs his body and waves his front legs in a highly specific manner. After mating, the female lays her eggs in a silk-lined shelter under stones or bark, or on the surface of plants. The female will often guard the eggs and newly hatched young.

Scientific classification: Jumping spiders make up the family Salticidae, in the spider order Araneae. Spiders and scorpions belong to the class Arachnida.

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"Jumping Spider," MicrosoftЃ EncartaЃ Online Encyclopedia 2007 © 1997-2007 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.