Look who I found on my kitchen table. How cute!
Oh my gosh… did I actually just use the word “cute” to describe a spider? I’ve come a long way from the days when even a picture of a spider in a book made my skin crawl.
At Audubon, we’re preparing a new lesson for 3rd grade called “The Hunters and the Hunted.” We’ll be including a section on spiders, for they have many ingenious strategies for catching their prey. I’m sure when I was in third grade I thought that all spiders built webs to catch their food… Turns out, that is only one of many methods among arachnids!
A jumping spider, for example, can spin silk, but he doesn’t use it to make a web. He may attach the beginning of a strand to his starting location before jumping. If it turns out to be a bad jump, he can return to the start by following this drag line. Or, after catching prey, he might attach a strand of silk to it… just in case he drops it while munching; using the silk, he can reel it back in. Females build silken shelters for eggs under leaves, then guard them until the babies hatch.
Jumping Spiders are in the Family Salticidae which boasts over 4,000 species. They are reported to jump 10-40 times their body length, and to have the best eyesight of any spider with the ability to see prey up to 8 inches away. A Jumping Spider may bite you if you corner it or handle it, but unless you are allergic to spider venom, the bite is unlikely to be harmful.