Salticus scenicus

Geographic Range

Zebra spiders have a Holarctic distribution. They are native to Europe, where they are found throughout the continent, but are also found throughout North America north of Mexico to southern Canada, where it is believed that they are an introduced species. This species has also been recorded across Russia, with additional records from Afghanistan, Greenland, Iceland, Kazakhstan, Nigeria and Argentina. (Bartlett, 2011; Foelix, 2011; Murphy, 2013; Nieuwenhuys, 2009; Robinson, 2005)

Habitat

Zebra spiders are a terrestrial, urban species of spider. These spiders are commonly seen on vertical surfaces such as walls, fences, window panes. They also live in forests, meadows, and gardens. (Foelix, 2011; Milne and Milne, 1980; Robinson, 2005; "Zebra Spider", 2010)

Physical Description

Zebras spiders are small, ranging from 4-7 mm in size. Females are larger than males and usually range from 4-6.5 mm while males range from 4-5.5 mm. They have 3-4 white stripes on their abdomens; those at the base of the abdomen are complete, while those in the middle are narrow or broken. The abdomen is longer and narrower than the cephalothorax. Males have a more elaborate striping pattern on their legs. In males, the chelicerae are larger than in females and extend almost horizontally. (Foelix, 2011; Milne and Milne, 1980; Robinson, 2005; Ubick, et al., 2005; Weber, 2003)

These spiders have eight eyes arranged in three rows, with two pairs of eyes in the front row and one pair in each of the other rows. The main AME (anterior median eyes), which are located in the center of the first row of eyes, are extremely large and are used for binocular vision. The ALE (anterior lateral eyes) are smaller than the AME and are located in the first row of eyes. This is a characteristic of spiders in the family Salticidae. The eyes in the second row provide vision in the forward direction while the final row of eyes allow the spider to look upward. (Foelix, 2011; Milne and Milne, 1980; Robinson, 2005; Ubick, et al., 2005; Weber, 2003)

These spiders are covered in hair. They have cushions of hair called scopulae on their legs and feet. The scopulae located on the bottom of their feet are particularly dense and are the only part of the spiders' body that touches the substrate. These hairs increase the surface area of the feet and work by adhesive forces, which allows jumping spiders to stick to smooth, vertical substrates. (Foelix, 2011; Milne and Milne, 1980; Robinson, 2005; Ubick, et al., 2005; Weber, 2003)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • female larger
  • sexes colored or patterned differently
  • sexes shaped differently
  • Range length
    4.0 to 7.0 mm
    0.16 to 0.28 in
  • Average length
    4.0-6.5 mm
    in

Development

Spiders develop in an egg sac that is usually hidden under a rock. Development consists of an embryonic period, a larval period, a nympho-imaginal period, and adulthood. The embryonic period begins when the egg is fertilized. In the larval stage, the spider survives on yolk from the egg and still lacks any distinguishable morphological features. The nympho-imaginal period follows the larval period. "Nymph" refers to the juvenile spider, while "imago" refers to the adult. During this phase, the spider develops functioning organ systems and hatches. Molting occurs between each of these development stages. In salticid spiders, juveniles undergo 5-11 instars before becoming an adult. (Foelix, 2011; Ubick, et al., 2005; Weber, 2003)

Reproduction

All salticid spiders have courtship rituals in which the male performs for the female. This is a visual ritual relying heavily on eyesight. Males use the stripped markings on their legs to attract a female. A male spider will dance in a zigzag pattern moving his pedipalps, front legs, and abdomen. During the dance, the female watches the male. If the female accepts the male, she crouches down, thereby signaling that the male may approach her. While still facing the female, the male climbs on top of her, and she orients her abdomen so that he can insert sperm into her genital opening. (Foelix, 2011; Weber, 2003)

Zebra spiders breed in spring and early summer. Specific information about number of offspring and time from egg deposition to independence is currently unavailable, as is information regarding time to sexual maturity. It is likely that, as with most temperate spider species, females reach maturity at some point in their first year of life, with males maturing somewhat earlier. (Foelix, 2011; Weber, 2003)

  • Breeding interval
    Zebra spiders breed once yearly
  • Breeding season
    Spring and early summer

Salticid species keep their eggs in a cocoon spun from silk. The mother closely guards the eggs until they hatch. Female zebra spiders guard their young until after the young have had their second molt. The young spiderlings then disperse and must care for themselves. ("Zebra Spider", 2008; Milne and Milne, 1980; Ubick, et al., 2005)

  • Parental Investment
  • precocial
  • female parental care
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • protecting
      • female

Lifespan/Longevity

Little information is available regarding the longevity of zebra spiders in the wild, but most spiders living in temperate regions live for one to two years. In captivity, the life expectancy of zebra spiders is two to three years, with females generally living longer than males. (Foelix, 2011; "Zebra Spider", 2010)

  • Typical lifespan
    Status: wild
    1 to 2 years
  • Typical lifespan
    Status: captivity
    2 to 3 years

Behavior

Zebra spiders are a wandering, solitary species of spider. Unlike many spiders, this species does not build webs. They do still have small spinnerets, from which they create drag line silk that is used when hunting prey. This silk is non-sticky and is used as an anchor while hunting so that the spider does not fall off the substrate while jumping on its prey. Salticid species build small shelters from silk under ground covering such as leaves, stones, or tree bark. These animals are diurnal and can often be seen hunting in sunny areas. ("Zebra Spider", 2010; Dill, 1975; Foelix, 2011; Milne and Milne, 1980; Ubick, et al., 2005; Weber, 2003)

In salticid species, aggressive, often ritualized behavior can be seen between males if they meet during courtship. When males meet, they raise and lower their front legs in a threatening manner. The male that is the most aggressive (often, but not necessarily always the largest) individual wins. (Faber and Baylis, 1993; Foelix, 2011)

Like other salticids, zebra spiders are saltatorial and rely on their jumping abilities to catch prey. When hunting, the spider locates prey using its eyes and then turns to face its prey. These large eyes allow them to form actual images and sense fast movements, which allows them to catch prey more easily. If the decision is made to continue the hunt, the spider crouches down and stalks its prey. This is done directly towards the target, unless the prey item is large. If it is, the spider circles around and approaches from behind. When the spider is close, it attaches a drag line to the substrate and jumps on the prey with its forelegs extended. The prey is quickly bitten to immobilize it, and eaten. ("Zebra Spider", 2010; Dill, 1975)

Home Range

No information is available on the home range of this species.

Communication and Perception

Zebra spiders have very large, well-developed frontal eyes. Unlike those of most spiders, which can only perceive motion, the eyes of jumping spiders can form detailed images. They have well-developed retinas that move independently of each other, and large lenses. Visual stimuli are used in hunting, courtship rituals, and to escape from predators. (Foelix, 2011)

Vibrations and chemical stimuli are also used in hunting and communications. While hunting, salticids can recognize their prey based on the vibrations the animal creates when it lands on the substrate. Prey items such as flies produce high frequency vibrations compared to background noise. Spiders can also perceive their environment through senses of smell and taste. Tasting occurs when a spider's contact chemoreceptors, located on the legs and palps, come into contact with a substance of a high concentration, while volatile substances can be sensed by olfaction in smaller concentrations. Females release sex pheromones to attract males. (Foelix, 2011)

Food Habits

Zebra spiders are active predators that feed primarily on insects, and can catch prey that is much larger than their body size. Their primary prey are dipterans, which includes mosquitos and flies. They do, however, also prey on small spiders, and will even eat members of their own species. When cannibalism occurs, the smaller spider is always the victim. Zebra spiders use their excellent vision to locate their prey. (Foelix, 2011; Nieuwenhuys, 2009; Okuyama, 2007)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • terrestrial non-insect arthropods

Predation

Spider wasps and mantises are known predators of zebra spiders. Zebra spiders have neutral coloration which helps them blend into their environment. They are heavily reliant on their eyesight to escape predators. (Foelix, 2011; Milne and Milne, 1980; Orkin, 2011)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic
  • Known Predators
    • Spider wasps (Family Pompilidae, Order Hymenoptera)
    • Mantises (Order Mantodea, Class Insecta)

Ecosystem Roles

Zebra spiders are predators that feed on a variety of organisms. They primarily feed on flies and mosquitos, but have also been known to eat butterflies and moths, ants, wasps, and bees, cicadas, and spiders. (Dill, 1975; Foelix, 2011; Okuyama, 2007; Orkin, 2011)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Zebra spiders primarily feed on flies and mosquitoes. These organisms are human pests and disease vectors. Predation by zebra spiders can help to keep populations of these pests in check. (Okuyama, 2007)

  • Positive Impacts
  • controls pest population

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Zebra spiders, like most spiders, produce a venom from glands located inside the chelicerae. However, this species is very small and a bite is unlikely to cause injury to a human, or even be able to pierce their skin. (Foelix, 2011)

Conservation Status

This species has not been evaluated by the IUCN red list and has no special conservation status. (IUCN 2012, 2012)

Other Comments

Some flies (Order Diptera) are known to mimic spiders from the family Salticidae in order to escape predators. (Foelix, 2011)

Contributors

Kelsey Libbe (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Jeremy Wright (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Glossary

Nearctic

living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map

Neotropical

living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map

Palearctic

living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

World Map

acoustic

uses sound to communicate

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

carnivore

an animal that mainly eats meat

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

cryptic

having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.

diurnal
  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.
ectothermic

animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females

fertilization

union of egg and spermatozoan

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

heterothermic

having a body temperature that fluctuates with that of the immediate environment; having no mechanism or a poorly developed mechanism for regulating internal body temperature.

holarctic

a distribution that more or less circles the Arctic, so occurring in both the Nearctic and Palearctic biogeographic regions.

World Map

Found in northern North America and northern Europe or Asia.

insectivore

An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body

introduced

referring to animal species that have been transported to and established populations in regions outside of their natural range, usually through human action.

monogamous

Having one mate at a time.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

oviparous

reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

pheromones

chemicals released into air or water that are detected by and responded to by other animals of the same species

saltatorial

specialized for leaping or bounding locomotion; jumps or hops.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

solitary

lives alone

suburban

living in residential areas on the outskirts of large cities or towns.

tactile

uses touch to communicate

temperate

that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.

savanna

A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5? N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.

urban

living in cities and large towns, landscapes dominated by human structures and activity.

venomous

an animal which has an organ capable of injecting a poisonous substance into a wound (for example, scorpions, jellyfish, and rattlesnakes).

vibrations

movements of a hard surface that are produced by animals as signals to others

visual

uses sight to communicate

young precocial

young are relatively well-developed when born

References

2010. "Zebra Spider" (On-line). Its Nature. Accessed March 21, 2012 at http://www.itsnature.org/ground/creepy-crawlies-land/zebra-spider/.

BBC. 2008. "Zebra Spider" (On-line). Science and Nature: Animals. Accessed March 22, 2012 at http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/wildfacts/factfiles/350.shtml.

Arnett, R. 1986. The insect and spider collections of the world. Gainesville, FL: E.J. Brill/Flora & Fauna Publications.

Bartlett, T. 2011. "Species Salticus scenicus - Zebra Jumper" (On-line). BugGuide. Accessed March 21, 2012 at http://bugguide.net/node/view/3344.

Dettner, K., G. Hubner. 2000. Hyperparasitoid defense strategies against spiders: the role of chemical and morphological protection. Entomologia Experimentalis Et Applicata, 97: 67-74. Accessed February 01, 2012 at http://www.mendeley.com/research/hyperparasitoid-defense-strategies-against-spiders-the-role-of-chemical-and-morphological/.

Dill, L. 1975. Predatory behavior of the zebra spider, Salticus scenicus (Araneae: Salticidae). Canadian Journal of Zoology, 53: 1284-1289. Accessed January 22, 2012 at http://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/abs/10.1139/z75-153.

Faber, D., J. Baylis. 1993. Effects of body size on agonistic encounters between male jumping spiders (Araneae: Salticidae). Animal Behaviour, 45/2: 289-299.

Foelix, R. 2011. Biology of Spiders. New York: Oxford Press.

Gosline, J., C. Ortlepp. 2008. The scaling of safety factor in spider draglines. Journal of Experimental Biology, 211/17: 2832-2840. Accessed February 01, 2012 at http://jeb.biologists.org/content/211/17/2832.short.

IUCN 2012, 2012. "The IUCN Redlist of Threatened Species" (On-line). Accessed January 21, 2013 at www.iucnredlist.org.

Milne, L., M. Milne. 1980. The National Audubon Society field guide to North American insects and spiders. New York: Random House.

Murphy, J. 2013. "The Checklist of British Spiders" (On-line). Website of the British Arachnological Society. Accessed January 21, 2013 at http://wiki.britishspiders.org.uk/index.php5?title=The_Checklist_of_British_Spiders.

Nieuwenhuys, E. 2009. "Jumping Spiders" (On-line). Family Salticidae. Accessed February 08, 2012 at http://ednieuw.home.xs4all.nl/Spiders/Salticidae/Salticidae.htm.

Okuyama, T. 2007. Prey of two species of jumping spiders in the field. Applied Entomology and Zoology, 42: 663-668. Accessed January 22, 2012 at http://www.americanarachnology.org/JoA_free/JoA_v5_n2/JoA_v5_p145.pdf.

Orkin, 2011. "Jumping Spider Predators" (On-line). Accessed February 22, 2012 at http://www.orkin.com/other/spiders/jumping-spider-predators.

Robinson, W. 2005. Urban Insects and Arachnids: A Handbook of Urban Entomology. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Roitberg, B., E. Mondor, J. Tyerman. 2003. Pouncing spider, flying mosquito: blood acquisition increases predation risk in mosquitoes. Behavioral Ecology, 14/5: 736-740. Accessed January 24, 2012 at http://beheco.oxfordjournals.org/content/14/5/736.short.

Schmitz, A., S. Perry. 2001. Bimodal breathing in jumping spiders: morphometric partitioning of the lungs and tracheae in Salticus scenicus (Arachnida, Araneae, Salticidae). The Journal of experimental biology, 204: 4321-4334. Accessed January 24, 2012 at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11815656.

Schmitz, A., S. Perry. 2000. Respiratory system of arachnids I: morphology of the respiratory system of Salticus scenicus and Euophrys lanigera (Arachnida, Araneae, Salticidae). Arthropod Structure & Development, 29: 3-12. Accessed January 22, 2012 at http://www.mendeley.com/research/respiratory-system-arachnids-i-morphology-respiratory-system-salticus-scenicus-euophrys-lanigera-arachnida-araneae-salticidae/.

Ubick, D., P. Paquin, P. Cushing, V. Roth. 2005. Spiders of North America : an identification manual. United States: American Arachnological Society.

Weber, L. 2003. Spiders of the North Woods. Duluth, MN: Kollath-Stensaas Pub..