Are Jumping Spiders Self-aware?

The jumping spider is a species of spider that derives its common name from its ability to jump, which it uses to catch prey. Jumping spiders belong to the Family Salticidae. There are more than 5,000 known species of jumping spiders globally, with about 300 species that are from the United States and Canada, including the zebra spider, Salticus scenicus. 

People often confuse jumping spiders with black widow spiders because of their tiny black bodies and short legs. Jumping spiders can be brown, tan, or gray, with delicate white, gray, yellow, red, blue, or green markings. Adult jumping spiders are often clothed in dense hairs or scales that are vividly colored and range in size from approximately 1/8-3/4 inches. Their front legs are often broader and longer than the rest of their body.

Jumping spider
Jumping spider | Image Credit – Flickr

Adult zebra spiders have gray bodies with white front and abdomen patterns with zebra-like legs that are white or brown with gray bands. Male zebra spiders are 1/8-1/4 inches, while females are 3/16-1/4 inches.

Jumping spiders, in general, have the best vision of any spider species, with the ability to notice and react to movement up to 45 cm away. But their night vision is poor. These spiders possess eight eyes that are arranged in three rows. The front row features four eyes, with the middle pair being particularly big.

Habitat

Jumping spider in their habitat
Jumping spider in their habitat | Image Credit – Wikimedia Commons

Unlike most other spiders, Jumping spiders are active during the day and prefer sunlight. They are outstanding hunters due to their jumping agility and quick reaction patterns; they may jump up to 20 times their body length when frightened. Jumping spiders can travel quickly for short distances, both sideways and backward, and spring on passing victims. When they leap, they use silk as a dragline, serving as a safety line.

Jumping spiders are unlikely to infest a residence since they favor grassland and prairies with plenty of plan with eating bollworms, cotton leaf worms, webworms, cotton flea hoppers, stink bugs, leafhoppers, and mosquitoes in these areas. Jumping spiders can sometimes get inside through soiled clothing or plants.

Jumping spiders don’t make snare webs; instead, they make web retreats, which are loosely constructed, saclike, and made up of numerous envelopes. Molting, hibernation, nighttime seclusion, and egg-laying are all done in these hideaways. The egg sacs are usually lens-shaped and hang from the retreat’s wall like a hammock. Jumping spiders will frequently create a new home for each activity – beneath furniture, in drapery folds, behind books, in wood floor gaps, around doors and window moldings, etc. We can find hiding places for jumping spiders under loose bark and between leaves outside.

Zebra spiders mate in May in the New England states, and eggs are laid in June and July. Each egg sac of a zebra spider carries 15-25 white eggs. The older spiderlings are assumed to spend the winter retreat before becoming adults in the spring. Male zebra spiders can be found from April to July, and female zebra spiders can be found from mid-May to late October, generally around windows and doors where more insects are attracted. They’re also regularly found running across tree bark beneath stones, bushes, fences, and decks in sunny regions.

Self Awareness

Jumping spider catching a fly
Jumping spider catching a fly | Image Credit – Flickr

Is the jumping spider self-aware? Have you ever noticed the spider web? 

The intricate patterns and shapes of the silken web may astound you. Could a creature motivated just by instinct create such a great work of art? Is it aware of its actions? Is it cognitive?

Jumping Spiders outsmart their prey. Despite their numerous eyeballs, most spiders have poor vision. Instead, they use vibrations to comprehend their surroundings. 

Jumping spiders have the clearest vision of all the arachnids. They have approximately 360-degree vision thanks to two massive forward-facing eyes and three sets of smaller eyes. Jumping spiders can sense color as humans do, even seeing ultraviolet light. These seasoned hunters employ a few ingenious strategies to improve their food-finding.

According to a 2017 study, when preying on web-building spiders, leaping spiders will plot a route to their prey as stealthy as possible. Rather than approaching prey directly, they will follow a circuitous route that places them above their target.

They drop themselves to the web weaver’s cave and pounce, surprising their target, using a silk thread from above. This path planning ability shows that leaping spiders have more intelligence than primal instinct.

Jumping spiders from the Portia family in Africa utilize deception to outsmart their victim. They’ll approach a spider that builds webs and pluck at it precisely.

It’s so specific that experts believe jumping spiders can distinguish between different prey, even though spiders come from various species.

If the size of the prey spider is smaller than the jumping spider, it will pluck the web vigorously, signaling a good-sized catch like a giant moth or a fly. The tiny web-building spider will rush out to tame the captured prey right away, right into the leaping spider’s waiting fangs.

If the prey spider is more prominent in size than the leaping spider, it will pluck the web lightly, as if a bit of insect, such as a fruit fly, has been caught. Instead of dashing over, the spider will entice them to come out and investigate. When the spider gets close enough, the jumping spider pounces and uses its venom to immobilize it.

Jumping spiders are incredibly ambitious, eating other spiders. Preying on other predators, according to researchers, necessitates a higher level of intelligence and deception.

Male jumping spider
Male jumping spider | Image Credit – Flickr

Robert Jackson from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand revealed in the 1980s and 1990s that a member of this spider-snacking subfamily, Portia fimbriata, meticulously plots winding diversions to catch prey spiders. Portia can even locate hidden prey, implying that the predator can envision the location of its prey as well as a method to get there.

Jumping spiders have an ideal vision for creatures whose size ranges from 1 millimeter to 2.3 centimeters in length. This eyesight could be one reason for their advanced behavior. Rather than the more well-known spider tactic of spinning a web and waiting for a meal to arrive, they use their visual prowess to discover, stalk, and pounce on their victim.

“Their vision has freed them, allowing them to explore an area,” says Ximena Nelson, an animal behavior researcher at the University of Canterbury. The latter also studies jumping spiders in her lab. They need to view predators, prey, and mates from afar and make decisions before approaching them while out in the wild. “That, in my opinion, has contributed to their amazing cognition.”

Conclusion

The world’s most intelligent spider is Portia fimbriata, sometimes known as the Fringed Jumping Spider or simply Portia. It’s a spider hunter who adapts its hunting techniques and learns from new scenarios as they arise.

Jumping spiders generalize problem-solving skills and use them in different cognitive domains. Some studies claim a feeling of numerosity among jumping spiders could be based on this ability to make cross-context generalizations.

The behavior of the jumping spider, be it the predator nature of the building web, suggest that the jumping spider is self-aware. The piece of information compiled above also favors the statement. 

Suraksha Pal

Suraksha Pal is an Industrial Engineer currently pursuing my master’s degree in Renewable Energy Engineering at the Institute of Engineering, Pulchowk Campus. She has a keen interest in Renewable Energy and is passionate about sustainable development. She loves to express her views on these subjects through articles and blogs.
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