White-Spotted Jumping Spider (Bold Jumping Spider)

Phidippus audax
Salticidae (jumping spiders) in the order Araneae (spiders)

This jumping spider, like many other jumping spiders, is fuzzy, walks with jerky movements, jumps astonishingly long distances, and doesn't build webs.

To identify this species, note the fuzzy, usually black body with spots on the abdomen. The cephalothorax (head) is often larger than the oval abdomen and is a solid black or reddish-brown. There are often several white (or orange or reddish) spots on top of the abdomen, a central spot being the largest. The chelicerae (fangs) are iridescent green or blue.

Length (not including legs): 1/4 to 3/4 inch (females); males are usually less than 1/2 inch.
Habitat and conservation: 
These jumping spiders are often found on broad-leafed plants (such as milkweed) in open areas and on tree trunks, fence posts, and house or barn siding. As with other jumping spiders, silk-spinning is limited to a single "tether" line for safety when exploring or when jumping great distances, and for making cocoons to hide in and for eggs.
Bugs, caterpillars, and other spiders appear to be the preferred prey. Jumping spiders have excellent eyesight and are visual predators. The two large eyes facing the front afford good binocular or 3D vision, which helps them jump with accuracy, while the other six eyes are positioned over the head to provide 360-degree views. Once detected, prey is generally pounced upon, grabbed, bitten, and consumed.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Also called the bold jumping spider, or the daring jumping spider. The Latinized species name, audax, has the same root as our word "audacious." It is found in much of the United States and southeastern Canada.
Life cycle: 
Jumping spiders have fascinating courtship dances, where the male waves his forelegs, displays his colorful chelicerae, and drums the ground in rhythmic patterns. These motions and patterns work as a "code" to signal to females that he is not to be considered food! Eggs are laid in silken cocoons in small crevices throughout the summer. Eggs, young, and adults all can overwinter in spun cocoons under tree bark and in other tight niches.
Human connections: 
Jumping spiders are active, curious creatures, and many people believe these "bold jumpers" can observe us with their "goggles" as we watch them. Though they can bite if squeezed or otherwise molested, the bite is harmless. Like all spiders, it controls insect populations.
Ecosystem connections: 
Spiders are little predators that help to control populations of the insects they capture. Being small themselves, they easily fall prey to larger predators such as birds, reptiles, and mammals. Many animals eat their eggs. In winter, many songbirds hunt for hibernating spiders.
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