If you follow us on Facebook or Instagram, you may have seen some photos of our latest arrivals; regal jumping spiders. Jumping spiders are unequivocally the cutest and most popular arachnids around; even folks who are wary of spiders find them irresistibly adorable. Their giant eyes evoke the same response that we have when we see Gizmo the Mogwai or Baby Yoda; a squeal of sheer delight and an overwhelming urge to hug it. Or is that just me?
Jumping spider’s eyes do more than elicit embarrassing emotional responses from Bug Wranglers; they are hugely important to their hunting strategies. Jumping spiders have 4 pairs of eyes, each playing a different role in the spider’s ability to detect motion, hunt prey, and avoid predators.
Check out the picture below: the blue area represents the jumping spider’s visual range. Yeah, it’s 360 degrees. Catching these critters can be a real challenge; they’re fast, they’re small, and they see you coming at all angles.
Each set of eyes has varying visual acuity and photoreceptors, but combined, the spider is able to actively stalk prey without the aid of silk (like orb weavers and tarantulas), distinguish between different colors, and even detect UV light.
As you might have guessed, jumping spiders, well, jump. But it’s not just a matter of seeing a prey item and pouncing when you have the chance. The spider must orient its body before the pounce (facing the prey and focusing on it with the anterior medial eyes), and attach a silk dragline to a surface (just in case it misses). Some spiders will even take long detours, circling their prey before committing to an attack. Some will invade webs of other spiders and steal their prey, or attack the resident spider instead. With nearly 6000 species belonging to the jumping spider family, the methods of attack are varied and complex, and still being studied today.