How to Find Jumping Spiders
People often ask where Jumping spiders can be found. The short answer is “everywhere”. This video shows some methods for collecting them.
PBS Be Smart video on Jumping spider vision. An excellent, and entertaining, summary of what is known about Jumping spider vision.
Jumping Spider Facebook Groups
Jumping Spider Biology Facebook Group – Moderated by a jumping spider biologist, a good place to ask questions and get help identifying Salticids from photos. There are other Jumping spider groups on Facebook. One even has 80,000 members, many of whom share photos of their pet Salticids.
A Note on Scientific Literature
Of course, you can find all of the information you want about Jumping spiders by searching on the Internet, and on YouTube. However, I want to point out that much of what we know about any scientific topic was first published in a scientific journal. Non-scientists generally don’t use them as sources of information, but whenever we read about some new discovery, that’s where the information came from. Science reporters for newspapers, magazines, and web sites must always keep a lookout for interesting research, which they then turn into popular articles for public consumption. I followed the trail for a recent Jumping spider discovery that made it into the national news.
On 8/8/22, the research paper Regularly occurring bouts of retinal movements suggest an REM sleep–like state in jumping spiders was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
The next day, 8/9/22, Harvard University, where the research was done, put out this press release.
Six days later, 8/15/22, the Washingon Post ran the story Some spiders may enter REM sleep — and maybe even dream, study says
And check this out: The graph below shows the searches for the term “jumping spider” in the news category from early 2022 to early 2023. On October 23, 2022, there is a peak of 100 searches, the same day that NPR aired its story! (Source: Google Trends).
All of the secondary source stories did a fine job summarizing the research, but it’s kind of cool to look at the original article. For example, this figure shows a lot of information that was not mentioned in any of the stories, and the graph at the top really gives you a better sense of how the research was done, and what was going on during the spider’s sleep.
A lot of scientific journal articles are behind pay walls, but there happens to be a journal dedicated to Salticids, called Peckhamia, which is online and free. It is edited by the moderator of the Jumping Spider Biology Facebook group that I mentioned above. Two of my photos were published in a Peckhamia paper about Jumping spiders’ use of their fangs.
Jumping Spider Vision Research
There are two papers that I read early on in college that continue to be among my favorites.
ORIENTATION BY JUMPING SPIDERS IN THE ABSENCE OF VISUAL FEEDBACK (1969), by M.F. Land. Land made what I think is an ingenious setup to measure how Salticids turn around in reponse to peripheral visual stimuli. He suspended them in the air and hung a small loop of paper from their feet, which, of course, adhere to surfaces. When the spider walked straight, the loop of paper rotated beneath the spider, essentially an inverted hamster wheel. And, when peripheral visual stimuli were presented, and the spider attempted to turn, the loop of paper spun beneath the spider and the angle it spun could be measured.
MOVEMENTS OF THE RETINAE OF JUMPING SPIDERS (SALTICIDAE:DENDRYPHANTINAE) IN RESPONSE TO VISUAL STIMULI (1971), also by M.F. Land. The lenses of Jumping spider eyes are fixed, because they are part of the exoskeleton, but the spiders are still able to scan across their visual field because the retinas move. For this research, Land actually made a tiny opthalmoscope and peered into the eyes in order to measure the retinas moving!
ONE SMALL LEAP FOR THE JUMPING SPIDER BUT A GIANT STEP FOR VISION SCIENCE (2009) is a homage to, and summary of, Land’s two classic research papers.
Jumping Spider Neurobiology
When I went to college after High School, I wanted to be a biologist and study Jumping spider vision. I had the fantasy of mapping the jumping spider’s brain, to elucidate its visual system. Even now, forty years later, that work is still in its infancy, but an important milestone was reached in 2015, described in the paper Visual Perception in the Brain of a Jumping Spider in the lab of Professor Ron Hoy at Cornell University. This is special to me, because I got my entomology degree at Cornell, and he lectured in one or two of my classes on cricket auditory behavior and neurobiology. This video summarizes the research they did. The spiders they studied were sacrificed, just like so many other animals are. This is a bit hard for me to watch in the video, but I think it’s OK. They are not harming any endangered species, and I think it’s worth it to do the work they do in order to increase scientific knowledge. Unfortunately, it appears as thought they have not published anything new about this work. I wonder if that means they reached a dead end with the technique.
Alex Winsor is a graduate student at U Mass, who studies the visual system of Salticids, carrying on the work of Land and others. He is featured in the PBS video at the top of this page. Here is a link to his web site. A paper by him, Attention and Distraction in the Modular Visual System of a Jumping Spider, has some videos of the retinas moving in response to stimuli.