Zebra spiders have a Holarctic distribution. They are native to Europe, where they are found throughout the continent, but are also found throughout North America north of Mexico to southern Canada, where it is believed that they are an introduced species. This species has also been recorded across Russia, with additional records from Afghanistan, Greenland, Iceland, Kazakhstan, Nigeria and Argentina. (Bartlett, 2011; Foelix, 2011; Murphy, 2013; Nieuwenhuys, 2009; Robinson, 2005)
- Other Geographic Terms
Zebra spiders are a terrestrial, urban species of spider. These spiders are commonly seen on vertical surfaces such as walls, fences, window panes. They also live in forests, meadows, and gardens. (Foelix, 2011; Milne and Milne, 1980; Robinson, 2005; "Zebra Spider", 2010)
Zebras spiders are small, ranging from 4-7 mm in size. Females are larger than males and usually range from 4-6.5 mm while males range from 4-5.5 mm. They have 3-4 white stripes on their abdomens; those at the base of the abdomen are complete, while those in the middle are narrow or broken. The abdomen is longer and narrower than the cephalothorax. Males have a more elaborate striping pattern on their legs. In males, the chelicerae are larger than in females and extend almost horizontally. (Foelix, 2011; Milne and Milne, 1980; Robinson, 2005; Ubick, et al., 2005; Weber, 2003)
These spiders have eight eyes arranged in three rows, with two pairs of eyes in the front row and one pair in each of the other rows. The main AME (anterior median eyes), which are located in the center of the first row of eyes, are extremely large and are used for binocular vision. The ALE (anterior lateral eyes) are smaller than the AME and are located in the first row of eyes. This is a characteristic of spiders in the family Salticidae. The eyes in the second row provide vision in the forward direction while the final row of eyes allow the spider to look upward. (Foelix, 2011; Milne and Milne, 1980; Robinson, 2005; Ubick, et al., 2005; Weber, 2003)
These spiders are covered in hair. They have cushions of hair called scopulae on their legs and feet. The scopulae located on the bottom of their feet are particularly dense and are the only part of the spiders' body that touches the substrate. These hairs increase the surface area of the feet and work by adhesive forces, which allows jumping spiders to stick to smooth, vertical substrates. (Foelix, 2011; Milne and Milne, 1980; Robinson, 2005; Ubick, et al., 2005; Weber, 2003)
- Sexual Dimorphism
- female larger
- sexes colored or patterned differently
- sexes shaped differently
- Range length
- 4.0 to 7.0 mm
- 0.16 to 0.28 in
- Average length
- 4.0-6.5 mm
Spiders develop in an egg sac that is usually hidden under a rock. Development consists of an embryonic period, a larval period, a nympho-imaginal period, and adulthood. The embryonic period begins when the egg is fertilized. In the larval stage, the spider survives on yolk from the egg and still lacks any distinguishable morphological features. The nympho-imaginal period follows the larval period. "Nymph" refers to the juvenile spider, while "imago" refers to the adult. During this phase, the spider develops functioning organ systems and hatches. Molting occurs between each of these development stages. In salticid spiders, juveniles undergo 5-11 instars before becoming an adult. (Foelix, 2011; Ubick, et al., 2005; Weber, 2003)
All salticid spiders have courtship rituals in which the male performs for the female. This is a visual ritual relying heavily on eyesight. Males use the stripped markings on their legs to attract a female. A male spider will dance in a zigzag pattern moving his pedipalps, front legs, and abdomen. During the dance, the female watches the male. If the female accepts the male, she crouches down, thereby signaling that the male may approach her. While still facing the female, the male climbs on top of her, and she orients her abdomen so that he can insert sperm into her genital opening. (Foelix, 2011; Weber, 2003)
- Mating System
Zebra spiders breed in spring and early summer. Specific information about number of offspring and time from egg deposition to independence is currently unavailable, as is information regarding time to sexual maturity. It is likely that, as with most temperate spider species, females reach maturity at some point in their first year of life, with males maturing somewhat earlier. (Foelix, 2011; Weber, 2003)
- Key Reproductive Features
- seasonal breeding
- gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
- Breeding interval
- Zebra spiders breed once yearly
- Breeding season
- Spring and early summer
Salticid species keep their eggs in a cocoon spun from silk. The mother closely guards the eggs until they hatch. Female zebra spiders guard their young until after the young have had their second molt. The young spiderlings then disperse and must care for themselves. ("Zebra Spider", 2008; Milne and Milne, 1980; Ubick, et al., 2005)
Little information is available regarding the longevity of zebra spiders in the wild, but most spiders living in temperate regions live for one to two years. In captivity, the life expectancy of zebra spiders is two to three years, with females generally living longer than males. (Foelix, 2011; "Zebra Spider", 2010)
- Typical lifespan
- 1 to 2 years
- Typical lifespan
- Typical lifespan
- 2 to 3 years
- Typical lifespan
Zebra spiders are a wandering, solitary species of spider. Unlike many spiders, this species does not build webs. They do still have small spinnerets, from which they create drag line silk that is used when hunting prey. This silk is non-sticky and is used as an anchor while hunting so that the spider does not fall off the substrate while jumping on its prey. Salticid species build small shelters from silk under ground covering such as leaves, stones, or tree bark. These animals are diurnal and can often be seen hunting in sunny areas. ("Zebra Spider", 2010; Dill, 1975; Foelix, 2011; Milne and Milne, 1980; Ubick, et al., 2005; Weber, 2003)
In salticid species, aggressive, often ritualized behavior can be seen between males if they meet during courtship. When males meet, they raise and lower their front legs in a threatening manner. The male that is the most aggressive (often, but not necessarily always the largest) individual wins. (Faber and Baylis, 1993; Foelix, 2011)
Like other salticids, zebra spiders are saltatorial and rely on their jumping abilities to catch prey. When hunting, the spider locates prey using its eyes and then turns to face its prey. These large eyes allow them to form actual images and sense fast movements, which allows them to catch prey more easily. If the decision is made to continue the hunt, the spider crouches down and stalks its prey. This is done directly towards the target, unless the prey item is large. If it is, the spider circles around and approaches from behind. When the spider is close, it attaches a drag line to the substrate and jumps on the prey with its forelegs extended. The prey is quickly bitten to immobilize it, and eaten. ("Zebra Spider", 2010; Dill, 1975)
No information is available on the home range of this species.
Communication and Perception
Zebra spiders have very large, well-developed frontal eyes. Unlike those of most spiders, which can only perceive motion, the eyes of jumping spiders can form detailed images. They have well-developed retinas that move independently of each other, and large lenses. Visual stimuli are used in hunting, courtship rituals, and to escape from predators. (Foelix, 2011)
Vibrations and chemical stimuli are also used in hunting and communications. While hunting, salticids can recognize their prey based on the vibrations the animal creates when it lands on the substrate. Prey items such as flies produce high frequency vibrations compared to background noise. Spiders can also perceive their environment through senses of smell and taste. Tasting occurs when a spider's contact chemoreceptors, located on the legs and palps, come into contact with a substance of a high concentration, while volatile substances can be sensed by olfaction in smaller concentrations. Females release sex pheromones to attract males. (Foelix, 2011)
Zebra spiders are active predators that feed primarily on insects, and can catch prey that is much larger than their body size. Their primary prey are dipterans, which includes mosquitos and flies. They do, however, also prey on small spiders, and will even eat members of their own species. When cannibalism occurs, the smaller spider is always the victim. Zebra spiders use their excellent vision to locate their prey. (Foelix, 2011; Nieuwenhuys, 2009; Okuyama, 2007)
- Animal Foods
- terrestrial non-insect arthropods
Spider wasps and mantises are known predators of zebra spiders. Zebra spiders have neutral coloration which helps them blend into their environment. They are heavily reliant on their eyesight to escape predators. (Foelix, 2011; Milne and Milne, 1980; Orkin, 2011)
- Anti-predator Adaptations
- Known Predators
- Spider wasps (Family Pompilidae, Order Hymenoptera)
- Mantises (Order Mantodea, Class Insecta)
Zebra spiders are predators that feed on a variety of organisms. They primarily feed on flies and mosquitos, but have also been known to eat butterflies and moths, ants, wasps, and bees, cicadas, and spiders. (Dill, 1975; Foelix, 2011; Okuyama, 2007; Orkin, 2011)
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
Zebra spiders primarily feed on flies and mosquitoes. These organisms are human pests and disease vectors. Predation by zebra spiders can help to keep populations of these pests in check. (Okuyama, 2007)
- Positive Impacts
- controls pest population
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
Zebra spiders, like most spiders, produce a venom from glands located inside the chelicerae. However, this species is very small and a bite is unlikely to cause injury to a human, or even be able to pierce their skin. (Foelix, 2011)
This species has not been evaluated by the IUCN red list and has no special conservation status. (IUCN 2012, 2012)
Some flies (Order Diptera) are known to mimic spiders from the family Salticidae in order to escape predators. (Foelix, 2011)
Kelsey Libbe (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Jeremy Wright (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.
living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.
living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.
uses sound to communicate
- bilateral symmetry
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
an animal that mainly eats meat
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.
- active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.
animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature
- female parental care
parental care is carried out by females
union of egg and spermatozoan
forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.
having a body temperature that fluctuates with that of the immediate environment; having no mechanism or a poorly developed mechanism for regulating internal body temperature.
a distribution that more or less circles the Arctic, so occurring in both the Nearctic and Palearctic biogeographic regions.
Found in northern North America and northern Europe or Asia.
An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.
- internal fertilization
fertilization takes place within the female's body
referring to animal species that have been transported to and established populations in regions outside of their natural range, usually through human action.
Having one mate at a time.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
- native range
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.
chemicals released into air or water that are detected by and responded to by other animals of the same species
specialized for leaping or bounding locomotion; jumps or hops.
- seasonal breeding
breeding is confined to a particular season
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
living in residential areas on the outskirts of large cities or towns.
uses touch to communicate
that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).
Living on the ground.
- tropical savanna and grassland
A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.
A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.
- temperate grassland
A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.
living in cities and large towns, landscapes dominated by human structures and activity.
an animal which has an organ capable of injecting a poisonous substance into a wound (for example, scorpions, jellyfish, and rattlesnakes).
movements of a hard surface that are produced by animals as signals to others
uses sight to communicate
- young precocial
young are relatively well-developed when born
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