Phidippus otiosus Photo Fiona Sunquist ©
These small, alert-looking spiders have four large eyes on their face and four smaller eyes on their head. If you put your hand near them, instead of running away like other spiders, jumping spiders will pivot and watch you closely.
Jumping spiders hunt during the daytime using their using their excellent vision to stalk insect prey. They can jump more than 50 times their own body length, and the instant before they jump, they fasten a piece of silk to the branch, so if they fall, they can use the silk to climb back up.
Because they are one of the few types of spiders that will take dead insects you can ‘train’ an individual jumping spider to come and accept a recently killed fly! These charming little spiders become quite familiar when fed regularly, and seem to know when you mean them no harm.
The Canopy Jumping Spider in the photograph above is slightly smaller than a dime. As its name suggests, the Canopy Jumping Spider lives mainly in trees, and is often found in Spanish moss. Its scientific name – otiosus (oto=ear) comes from its distinctive black ‘ear tufts’. This species is found all over the southeastern US, from Florida to Texas and North Carolina.
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