Spider: The Bold Jumper
The jumping spiders, as a rule, are relatively small, compact hunting spiders. They have very good eyesight and can pounce on their victims from a great distance. Spiders in the genus Phidippus are the largest-bodied of the Salticids. Phidippus audax, the most commonly encountered jumping spider in and around Pennsylvania homes, is found from Canada and the Atlantic Coast states west to California.
P. audax is a black, hairy spider measuring 8 to 19 millimeters for the females and 6 to 13 millimeters for the males. There is a pattern of white, yellow, or orange spots on the top of the abdomen (orange on the younger spiders), and the chelicerae frequently have an iridescent green hue. The males have “eyebrows,” or tufts of hairs over the eyes. Occasionally, white bands extend back from the rear pair of eyes. The eyes located at the center of the front end of the cephalothorax are by far the largest and aid the spiders in capturing prey.
These spiders overwinter as nearly mature, or penultimate, individuals. In April or May, they finish maturing and mate, with eggs being deposited in June and July. The P. audax female suspends her eggs in a silken sheet within her retreat. In contrast to many other hunting spiders, jumping spiders require daylight to hunt their prey. They can be found on windowsills, tree trunks, and deck railings; under stones; and in other locations during daylight hours.
The chances of being bitten by P. audax are slim to none. These spiders are difficult for collectors to catch, and they appear fearful of humans. Additionally, their habit of hunting during the daytime helps to reduce the number of human bites. Information concerning the effect of these bites is inconclusive, but they probably result in no more than a painful sting and the temporary appearance of an erythematic region.
Authored by: Steve Jacobs, Sr. Extension Associate
March 2002 Revised 2012
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