The tigers of the grass: jumping spiders (Salticidae)
They’re watching around, among leaves and stems, rocks and crevices. They see even more colors than us, being sensitive to UV light as well. Jumping spiders are thus studied by scientists for their simple eyes able to do “great” things.
I don’t exactly know when it began, but I was attracted by jumping spiders way before elementary schools time, amazed by the way they moved, they hunted and jumped around to hide from myself, the giant pink-big-two-eyed predator staring from above.
Salticidae are the “system fuckers” in the spiders world.
First of all: they see damn well compared to the majority of their “cousins” around the planet. Their two median frontal eyes are just perfect to see close by, while they follow and stalk their prey into the foliage with the help of the other six simpler eyes. They’re almost everywhere in temperate and tropical ecosystems, even reaching super high altitudes on the Himalaya, as Euophrys omnisuperstes do at 6700 m (22.000 feet), being known as one of the highest known permanent residents on Earth.
Is there any other “rule” in the spiders world that these little demons evolutionally broke? Is sure!
There are omnivorous/vegetarian jumping spiders? of course! The most famous one is the Mexican Bagheera kiplingi, a small jumper living on acacia trees that normally produce protein-rich “gifts” for the ants that protect them by intruders. But this spider is able to elude the ants and eat those masses (Beltian bodies). This diet is even “flexible” into this species and in Costa Rica it normally feeds more on animal preys than plants.
Moreover, some researchers showed how many Salticidae species from all around the world normally feed on pollen during their first weeks of life and how this diet income is crucial for their growth rate.
But don’t worry horror movie lovers! There are also “vampire” jumping spiders with a taste for well fed mosquitoes full of blood!
And what about breeding? Well, spiders normally rely on chemical and/or vibratory transmissions when it comes to find a partner to mate with. Jumping spiders once again rely on their acute sight and ability to see colors for courtship also. So let’s the dances begin! As European Saitis or the Australian Maratus do, even raising their colored abdomens like peacocks do with their feathers.
I just tell you one thing about them, it’s an advise: bow down, squeeze your eyes a bit, cause they’re tiny and afraid of you. They almost never use their fangs to bite for self defence and their venom is harmless to us. So when you’ll find one at home, don’t worry! Let it crawl on your fingers or into a cup and gently put it on a plant outside. Or even let it stay at home! They’re impressive mosquitoes hunters!
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