Jumping spiders are right up there as one of the top predators among arthropods. If at all a comparison of sorts is needed, I think it would be safe to say that they are the ‘Tigers’ in the world of arthropods.
They don’t build webs to capture their prey. Majority of the jumping spiders don’t lie in wait for the unsuspecting prey to come by. Instead, they actively go looking for one. They are masters at stalking. Slowly, and stealthily they close in on their potential prey and at that opportune moment, with one quick dash, grasp and bite, bring it down, very much like a big cat, a Tiger more so, as these are solitary hunters too!
Jumping spiders have all the qualities that are needed to be successful hunters. Powerful sight, stealth and speed enable them to bring down prey, many times bigger in size, than themselves.
They have four pairs of eyes, just like most of the other spiders. However, the arrangement and their sizes, relative to the jumper’s overall body size, is what makes them different. Two pairs of eyes in the front and two pairs on top of their head ( cephalothorax ). These eyes together, create a field of vision, that is almost 360 degrees.
With them, they are able to detect slightest of movements around them and act accordingly. If you try to move back and forth or sideways while looking at a jumper, you will see that they too respond by tracking your movement. In addition to help detecting movement, their eyes help in assessing distance between them and their target. Very powerful vision indeed.
A jumping spider may be anywhere between 1 and 22 mm in body length. Mind you, ‘millimeter’, but with loads of attitude all the same :)
Here’s one sitting on the bulb of a yellow peacock flower.
And here’s one, set against a tiny dew drop, to just give an idea of the size.
But, among jumping spiders, size definitely doesn’t matter ! An internal, hydraulic kind of system, enables them to make those quick jumps and they can be really fast when required, thus giving them the much needed speed to dash towards their prey.
Jumpers are the true inspiration for spider man. Just like all spiders, they do have silk producing glands at the rear end of their abdomens.
They use silk to create drop lines, to hold on to, in case of a fall during a hunt or for generally moving around, as bridges between disconnected places in their paths. So does the spider man, just that they made him spurt out silk from his wrists, as it would have been quite inappropriate for him to do so from the rear ;)
Jumping spiders also use the silk to make small webs, commonly, underneath of leaves, where-in they take shelter and also lay their eggs.
As mentioned before, they are very skilled at stalking their prey. Here’s one slowing moving towards a mating pair of common houseflies. Their strong vision and distance assessment abilities aid a lot in this.
And the drop lines of silk help in situations like this. After catching a big prey, if the jumper is unable to control it, it might drop, but will safely be hanging down by the thin strand of silk, while still holding onto its kill.
Jumpers are notorious hunters. They hunt other jumping spiders too.
Here’s one that has caught an ant mimicking jumping spider.
And here’s one that has brought down an orb weaver spider, which is so much more bigger than the jumper.
Jumping spiders are very aggressive, agile and efficient hunters. Their powerful vision and attitude give them a great ability to interact with their environment in a very effective way. They can, without a question be considered as the master predators in the world of arthropods.