Jumping Spiders (Araneae: Salticidae) of North America
With A Focus On Massachusetts
An Introduction for Naturalists
Worldwide the salticids comprise the largest spider family with approximately 300 species represented in North America north of Mexico. Superior eyesight, an active lifestyle, and diverse forms and behaviors are hallmarks of this group. Many species of jumping spiders are brightly colored and yes, truly beautiful. Naturalists new to salticid studies will find a variety of resources, including information on identification, behavior, and life histories, available both online and in print. See the "Jumping Spider Info" link above for important sources and references.
My primary focus here is to provide online videos of North American jumping spiders. Because I live in Massachusetts and regularly spend time in New Jersey many of the species are those occurring in the northeast. Trips to Texas and California have added some of the southwestern and western species as well. Whenever possible the videos show jumping spiders in their natural habitats. Some video, however, was shot with captured spiders when field conditions and/or the spider's behavior made on-site acquisition difficult or impossible. This is a work in progress and various parts are "in production."
Below are links to pages describing various salticid genera of jumping spiders recorded in Massachusetts. Most descriptions give a brief overview of the genus; other genera, those with species diversity in Massachusetts and/or genera representative of North American jumping spiders, are covered in more detail. References: Hill and Edwards, 2013; various genera revisions
Some Thoughts On Field Identification
Species determination using microscopic examination is the method of choice for treating research and archival material. However, field identification of adult jumping spiders based on larger anatomical features can be judged on its own merits. Arachnologists have traditionally included macro elements in their written descriptions and habitus figures in their illustrations; these characteristics along with other observable markings provide a basis for salticid field identification.
Making correct field identifications is a skill developed over a lifetime. To the uninitiated this ability may seem mysterious and yes, even magical. And yet, while some individuals have better eyesight or keener hearing than others, the accomplished naturalist's skill is largely the result of hard work and time in the field. Several resources are critical to tackling the field identification challenge in an efficient way. For jumping spiders the most recently published "revisions" of genera are often good sources for the descriptions and illustrations mentioned above. An accurate and comprehensive species list for a given locale as well as information on habitat affiliations and seasonality for each species are also extremely useful. Many of these resources are included in online or in print publications listed in the reference section of the "Jumping Spider Info" page.
Those species with confirmed records for Massachusetts seen here include a series of reference images (under the "Identification" tab) annotated with identification tips. A number of species with ranges outside of Massachusetts are also included for comparative purposes. Information given on the "Salticid Genera" pages may also be helpful. Dates of observation are based on my own field notes, Kaston's Spiders of Connecticut, records cited in current revisions and on BugGuide, as well as dates from historical publications including those by Hentz, Peckham, Emerton and Bryant listed in the reference section. Revisions and additions to this project are ongoing and I invite your comments and/or contributions. Dick Walton - June 2013.