Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider, Man
Spiders—friendly? Most people don’t think so. In fact, if they see one they grab the nearest object and begin smashing until the spider is just a stain. It isn’t surprising; you can find these ugly eight-legged creatures everywhere. Spiders invade our yards, homes, offices, beds, and even our sleep. And if you’re not having nightmares then you are jumping awake, believing that tickle on your leg just might be a spider. Fear of spiders is nearly universal.
There is an exception… jumping spiders
This is where friendly comes into play. Some people actually believe jumping spiders are cute. Check out the picture. Instead of rows of beady little eyes, jumping spiders come equipped with two large eyes located in the front, other smaller eyes around the head give it the ability to see 360 degrees. Jumping spiders are also full of curiosity. Rather than hiding in dark corners or scurrying from the light, jumping spiders live out in the open. They will watch you with interest as they walk across a wall. If you place your finger near, they will gladly climb aboard. Their ability to interact makes them far more interesting to watch and play with rather than smash. Though the jumping spider’s fangs are filled with venom, they are not harmful to humans. Instead they help out. Jumping spiders love to kill and eat pest bugs such as mosquitoes and flies.
Stalking, Jumping, and Camouflage
Jumping spiders don’t build webs; rather they are like the panthers of the spider kingdom. They stalk their prey and when the opportunity is right, they pounce, impaling victims with their fangs. They do use webbing, but they use is it just like Spiderman does. Before each jump, the spider attaches a silken lifeline. If the jump fails, the spider can quickly return to its original position. A jumping spider can leap over 50 times its body length. If a person could do the same, they would be able to jump from one end of a football to field to the other in a single bound. Imagine that; “Jones catches the ball at the one-yard line . . . he jumps . . . Touchdown!”
Some species of jumping spider don’t rely on just jumping. One species in Australia uses mimicry. The spider looks so much like an ant that other ants simply leave it alone and wonder why their friends keep disappearing.
In some philosophies, intelligence is determined as the ability to make good choices. If this is the case, then the jumping spider may be the most intelligent arachnid. Scientists have found that when presented with two mosquitos, one filled with blood the other empty, the jumping spider will look at both choices, and make the decision to go after the blood filled mosquito. Still though, anyone that finds a group of spiders diagraming a plan to invade a house should immediately grab the bug spray.
Next time you see a big pair of happy spider eyes looking at you from across the dinner table you might spare the smashing and release the little guy into the wild. If that fails, you can always make your kids do it . . . but then they might just keep it as a pet.