Zebra Jumper Spider (Salticus scenicus)

20 June

A tiny (about 5mm) creature that ran across my keyboard and was not easy to identify.

a common jumping spider of the Northern Hemisphere. Like other jumping spiders it does not build a web. It has a particularly large pair of forward facing eyes that help it to locate and stalk its prey before pouncing on it. Their common name refers to their vivid black-and-white colouration, whilst their scientific name derives from Salticus from the Latin for “dancing”, in reference to their agility, and the Greek scenicus, translating to “theatrical” or “of a decorative place,” in reference to the flashy, zebra-like coloration of the specieA

Thanks to its small size and stealthy nature, it is more likely to find you than the reverse. They orient towards prey detected by their lateral eyes whenever the angle subtended by such prey exceeds 5.5°. The velocity of the prey is not involved in the determination of reactive distance, but only moving objects elicit orientation. The probability that orientation is followed by stalking is a function of both prey size and velocity. The zebra spider’s stalk velocity declines progressively as it nears its (stationary) prey.

Before jumping, they glue a silk thread to the surface that they are jumping from so that if they miss the target, they can climb up the thread and try again – However, they may ‘abseil’ with a silk thread if they wish to descend from a height safely, for instance they have been documented ‘abseiling’ from ceilings. They ignore unappetising insects such as ants.