Locating Salticidae (Jumping spiders)

As my interest in learning about & photographing Salticids grows, my ability to locate jumpers in new areas (or new species around the house) is not keeping pace (to put it mildly!). I head out to promising-looking areas (whether in woods, fields, swampy margins of ponds, etc) and return having found zilch (except a healthy tick population & lots of poison ivy). I’m looking for suggestions to help push me up the learning curve - websites, books, youtubes, folks to follow on social media (or iNat), local (or not-so-local) field trips to join (Central NJ or Eastern PA area) - really anything that might help the acquisition of knowledge. I suspect that there are a number of experienced, knowledgeable Salticid hunters on iNat who were once newbies (or at least less-than-expert). I would really appreciate any tidbits that folks found helpful on their journey.

The thread ‘How to spot the hard to spot’ has been helpful but I’m wondering if I might be overlooking key things about the jumpers that might help me locate them - time of day, temperature preferences, preferences for ground, plants or trees, habitat-type, hunting ‘style’ (slow stalking vs stop-for-a-while then relocate vs …), etc, etc. Thomas Shahan’s youtubes have also been helpful - others?

3 Likes

that’s easy; you can only find them if you’re not looking for them. :upside_down_face:
i gave up on looking for them entirely, and now i see them all the time!

2 Likes

I find them a lot in my outdoor potted plants. They also have a tendency to come into my room and into my office, but I do live in an area were there are a lot of them.

The main thing I’d suggest it slowing down a lot. Spend time sitting and watching in one place rather than going from place to place. You’ll find that there is almost always one nearby, often within arm’s reach, if you’re quiet and patient.

When you do go move around looking for them do so slowly and look for those barely visible twitches of motion. Often the spiders are so small you don’t see them unless they’re moving.

On plants look for little bumps in spots where there is a good view, but near a hiding spot. Often I’ll see them just sitting watching what’s going on, or peeking over the top of a leaf, like in the 3rd photo in this observation

1 Like

The wall around my garden is painted white. A large variety of jumping spide love to sit on it waiting for insects and they are so easy to find.

I’m not familiar with the salticid fauna in the US but I have a bit of experience with salticids in Europe. The species that we have here are almost all habitat specialists. There are a few species which have habitat preferences that can also be met in urban areas and which are therefore also synanthropic. But the majority of species can only be found in specific habitats. Therefore, you might run out of new species rather quickly around your home. Good places to look for synathropic species are house walls and wooden structures such as fences or wooden sheds. You might also find some tree-dwellers or low-vegetation-dwellers in urban areas.

Generally jumping spiders like it warm and dry (at least in the temperate zone). Sunny and exposed areas are very good places to look for them. From late morning until late afternoon is the best to look for them because then there will be generally less humidity and higher temperatures. I cannot support the comment that it’s best to look for them in the morning and evening. Atleast in Euope they are most active in the midst of day. Right after rain showers you might not have much luck to find them because they retreat. Looking for them in dry conditions (a couple of days without precipitation is best) increases the chances of finding them. You can find them almost everywhere (grass, stones, rocks, bushes, trees, barren ground, sand, dunes, leaf litter, under stones or dead wood, between pebbles, at the edge of rivers, mountainous areas, wetland areas… the list is endless, but it always depends on the species you are looking for). The more diverse the habitats that you are searching in the more species you will find.

When you look for jumpers it’s good to be slow. Walk around slowly and observe the ground in front of you. You might cause them to move/jump and that’s when they’re easiest to spot. Many species like to sit in exposed places like on top of stones which makes it rather easy to spot them. If you think you found a place that looks promising for certain species then just kneel or sit down and observe the environment. It might take a few minutes for them to start moving and that’s when you can see them easier. Staring at tree bark can also reveal some very well camouflaged species. From my experience so far it’s pretty tough to spot tree-dwelling species. A beating sheet can be handy to beat some species from branches. Some species are very easy to find that way but if you would just look for them with your eye it’s almost impossible.

My best advice to learn about them is by going out and just doing it. You can read and watch so much but in the end it’s the experience that is needed. In the 3 years that I’m focusing more and more on jumping spiders it helped me most to just observe them in the field. That’s how you learn best about the populations and species in your area. I found a few places this way which have entire populations of certain species. So, whenever I go there I can be almost certain to find them. Going to the same places many times also helps to learn under which conditions you find which species. Some species are active very early in the year but you won’t find them later on. Or you will only find males/females/juveniles at certain times in the year. The more time you spent out there the more you will learn to recognize their movement pattern which makes it easier to find them, too (except the ant-mimics, though). If your brain is trained for these patterns it’s much easier to differentiate jumping spiders from all the other critters that run around in the same place and which might distract you. For the European species you also don’t find detailed information about the lifestyle of jumping spider species. I guess that might also be true for the American species. I already found species in habitats and places which are not mentioned in literature to be favored habitats and places for these species. When you know where and how they hibernate you can even find jumpers in winter.

There is also a nice video on youtube by one of the leading jumping spider experts. It’s quite entertaining and might help you out, too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZ1P_3fHtPk

WARNING: Shameless self-advertisement!
If you like to look at jumping spider pictures I can recommend @bfmacro on instagram. I have lots of jumping spider pictures in my gallery and in my older posts I also wrote a few more details about the species. I’m not doing that so much anymore since it feels as if I would just be repeating myself over and over.

Good luck in your quest. Be patient, though, it takes time.

1 Like

I’d like to echo the advice of spending time looking in one spot. There have been several occasions when I’ve only noticed a jumping spider after I’ve hunched down to look at something else, and they can be quite good at escaping into the leaf litter, tangles of plants, or the underside of leaves.

Here in South Korea I’ve seen jumping spiders in long grasses, on wooden boards/fencing, on the leaves of bushes and trees, on building walls, and on stones.

In addition to that, the city where I live has a set of walking paths on the edge of town (along a stream near a forest) and I’ve generally had good luck finding Salticidae species on the railing installed next to the paths. Genera I’ve recorded on railing here are Evarcha, Carrhotus, Orienticius, Harmochirus, Euophrys, Phintella, Talavera, Mendoza, Marpissa, Myrmarachne, Rene, Attulus, and Telamonia. I’ve also encountered Siler, Marpissa, and Synagelides on the railing next to walking paths in other areas.

I’m usually checking in the afternoon through early evening and probably have the most success in the spring before all the Trichonephila clavata start appearing. I walk slowly and scan the railing (top, middle, bottom levels) for movement or anything of a different color. There have been plenty of times I’ve found myself staring at bird droppings by mistake but it’s better than missing something neat.

Actually, come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve come across any Euophrys kataokai here that wasn’t on some railing or a lamppost! https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=any&taxon_id=360453&user_id=whaichi&verifiable=any