Phidippus apacheanus

Geographic Range

The geographic origin of Phidippus apacheanus is unclear, but it seems to be more numerous in the southwestern states of North America. It can be found in most of the United States except for the northeast and far western states. It is most common from Nebraska to Utah and south to Texas and Arizona. Phidippus apacheanus has also been recorded in southern Minnesota and southern Wisconsin, but only one or two instances have been observed. (Bradley, 2013; Chamberlin, Gertsch, 1929; Edwards Jr., 1980)


Phidippus apacheanus has been recorded from dry grasslands, fields, and deserts at elevations up to 1800 meters. It has been frequently found on shrubs, cacti, and other perennial vegetation in dry, arid areas. In desert habitats, nests are made on the undersides of sunflower leaves and among the joints and thorns of cactus; the females were sedentary in nests, while the males wandered during the day on leaves and twigs. They have also been collected in suburban and agricultural areas, such as on fence posts, in barns, and on roads. (Bradley, 2013; Chamberlin, Gertsch, 1929; Edwards Jr., 1980; Gardner, 1965)

  • Range elevation
    500 to 1800 m
    1640.42 to 5905.51 ft

Physical Description

Phidippus apacheanus is a large jumping spider, a member of the Salticidae family. It ranges in size from 3.3 mm (small males) to 22 mm (large, gravid females). The chelicerae are iridescent green. The female is black with orange on top of the cephalothorax and abdomen. There is often a black stripe on the abdomen. The dorsal color is yellow, orange, or red. The underside is black. There are many small light spots or a light basal band on the abdomen. The male is similar but has solid coloration and is more often red-orange. The palps of the male are dark.

For the most part, immatures have color patterns similar to adult females, and the pattern becomes more similar with each succeeding instar. The most difficult stage to determine to species is the first free-living instar, which in most species has a dark body with no scale pattern. The leg segments distal to the femur are usually much paler in color than the rest of the spiderling. The known color patterns of first instars of P. apacheanus have a black body and distal leg segments are black. (Bradley, 2013; Chamberlin, Gertsch, 1929; Edwards Jr., 1980; Gardner, 1965)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • female larger
  • sexes colored or patterned differently
  • Range length
    3.3 to 11 mm
    0.13 to 0.43 in
  • Average length
    22 mm
    0.87 in


After hatching from eggs, immature spiders can be found throughout the spring and summer. They mature through 3 molts before maturing into adults. Adults of P. apacheanus are not present until September or October. (Chamberlin, Gertsch, 1929; Edwards Jr., 1980)


Phidippus apacheanus males have an elaborate courtship display. The male begins his display by holding the carapace very high, shifting the abdomen to one side, and raising the first pair of legs. In this position, he moves before the female, stopping after each few steps. The male advances in a zig-zag pathway, shifting his abdomen to the other side at the end of each oblique approach. Throughout, the dancing male flicks his forelegs up and down, holding them wide apart at first and bringing them closer and closer together as he nears the female. Phidippus apacheanus differs from other Phidippus species at this stage by moving his forelegs both closer and higher as he nears the female until the tips touch in a circle above his head. Then, with forelegs held almost parallel before him, he touches the female cautiously once or twice. Females of P. apacheanus are unusual in that they perform an acceptance dance just before the male touches them. With forelegs high and wide apart and abdomen bent to the side, the female sways before the male, sometimes with a few steps to one side and then the other. After this acceptance dance, the male climbs over her and uses the forelegs to help turn her abdomen to the side. When the genital pore, which lies on the ventral abdomen, is exposed the male inserts his palpus. After 2 to 3 minutes the male withdraws and turns the female's abdomen in the other direction and inserts the other pedipalp. This completes the transfer of sperm. (Chamberlin, Gertsch, 1929; Gardner, 1965)

Mating and reproduction take place during fall, and in to winter in the warmer regions of this spider's range. After mating, the female lays two to three batches of eggs, with each subsequent batch having fewer and fewer eggs. The eggs hatch after about 18 to 25 days. The spiderlings remain in the nest for up to 21 days after hatching, through their first molt. The female generally guards the nest until the spiderlings disperse, and she usually dies shortly after. (Chamberlin, Gertsch, 1929; Gardner, 1965)

  • Breeding interval
    Phidippus apacheanus mates once in its life.
  • Breeding season
    Mating takes place in the fall.
  • Range number of offspring
    80 to 200
  • Average number of offspring
  • Range gestation period
    18 to 25 days
  • Average gestation period
    22 days
  • Range time to independence
    16 to 24 days
  • Average time to independence
    22 days
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    5 to 7 months
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    5 to 7 months

Females of Phidippus apacheanus provide a significant amount of parental care. Spiderlings remain in the nest for up to 21 days after hatching and stay through their first molt. During this time, the female generally will guard the nest. After they disperse, the spiderlings are on their own and can fend for themselves. (Gardner, 1965)

  • Parental Investment
  • female parental care
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-independence
    • protecting
      • female


The lifespan of Phidippus apacheanus is unknown, though females die shortly after their offspring disperse. Mortality is also high for vulnerable spiderlings after dispersing from their mother's nest. (Chamberlin, Gertsch, 1929; Gardner, 1965)


Phidippus apacheanus does not spin webs for catching prey. Instead, it constructs small tent-like silken retreats under rocks or logs, or on plants, which they use at night and during hibernation. The females will also lay their eggs in them. Jumping spiders are most active during the day, and they prefer sunshine. They tend to stay in their retreats on cloudy or rainy days. Jumping spiders are generally interested in any organism that approaches them, and will often turn and face human observers.

Young spiderlings are ready to hunt for prey not long after hatching. Laboratory studies have shown a learning curve in their hunting skills. They will initially attack any suitably-sized prey, will remember unfavorable encounters with certain types of potential prey, and will remember which potential prey caused these unfavorable encounters, subsequently avoiding encounters with this type of organism. Experiments with ants show that not only do spiderlings become more proficient at capturing prey, but they also become more discriminating in what they will attack. (Chamberlin, Gertsch, 1929; MN DNR, 2014)

Communication and Perception

Jumping spiders have four pairs of eyes, with the pair of large principal eyes giving them better vision than other spiders. The forward-looking placement of this pair of eyes provides binocular vision, enabling them to judge distances accurately, and they are able to identify prey, predators, and mates from up to a foot away. Physiological and behavioral experiments have demonstrated that they have color vision, possibly extending into the ultraviolet range. Vision and touch are also used to communicate during courtship rituals, as the male performs a series of visual, physical displays, and also touches the female with his forelegs before proceeding with mating. (Chamberlin, Gertsch, 1929; Gardner, 1965; MN DNR, 2014)

  • Perception Channels
  • visual
  • ultraviolet

Food Habits

Phidippus apacheanus is carnivorous and preys on a large variety of invertebrates. Prey includes flies, Hymenoptera, butterflies and moths, beetles, Odonata, Orthoptera, Hemiptera, and other spiders. Prey size is significantly correlated with spider size. (Edwards Jr., 1980)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • terrestrial non-insect arthropods


Predators of Phidippus apacheanus include wasps (Pompilidae and Sphecidae), mantispid and dipteran egg predators, predaceous fungi, frogs, lizards, birds, other spiders, and lizards (Anolis carolinensis and Sceloporus undulatus).

It appears that Phidippus apacheanus adults are mimics of the western velvet ant, Dasymutilla flammifera. Both the spider and the velvet ant are solid red dorsally with black appendages. While velvet ants are much larger, they run with their heads down, somewhat hidden by the thorax. The truncate anterior edge of the velvet ant thorax becomes effectively the front of the animal, which is matched in shape by the front of the spider. The tucked head of the velvet ant also makes it appear shorter, thus more similar to the spider mimic in size. Since velvet ants are known for having very painful stings, resembling them is beneficial to these jumping spiders. Predators may mistake them for the painful velvet ants, and avoid trying to eat P. apacheanus. (Edwards Jr., 1980)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • mimic

Ecosystem Roles

Phidippus apacheanus is thought to prey on harmful insects which may help to lower their numbers. They also prey on a large variety of other invertebrates. Additionally, they serve as prey to many predators, including birds, frogs, lizards, and other spiders. These spiders can be used as hosts by some hunchback fly and nematode parasitoids, as well as hymenopteran egg parasites. (Edwards Jr., 1980)

Commensal/Parasitic Species

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Phidippus apacheanus has been reported preying on harmful insects, helping to control the pest populations. (Edwards Jr., 1980)

  • Positive Impacts
  • controls pest population

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Generally members of the Phidippus genus are docile spiders, which will attempt to hide or flee if threatened by the proximity of a human. Some can be easily handled yet some can and will bite if carelessly handled and is demonstrated by numerous reports in California of people bitten by P. johnsoni and P. johnsoni. Elsewhere in the U.S., other species occasionally have been reported to bite humans. The pain of the bite of most species is light to moderate and usually does not last more than a few minutes. There have not been any reports of P. apacheanus causing any problems. (Edwards Jr., 1980)

  • Negative Impacts
  • injures humans
    • bites or stings
  • household pest

Conservation Status

Phidippus apacheanus has no special conservation status.


joseph vrtacnik (author), Minnesota State University Mankato, Robert Sorensen (editor), Minnesota State University, Mankato, Angela Miner (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.



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.

World Map


uses sound to communicate


living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.

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

desert or dunes

in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.

  1. 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


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.


the state that some animals enter during winter in which normal physiological processes are significantly reduced, thus lowering the animal's energy requirements. The act or condition of passing winter in a torpid or resting state, typically involving the abandonment of homoiothermy in mammals.


An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body


A large change in the shape or structure of an animal that happens as the animal grows. In insects, "incomplete metamorphosis" is when young animals are similar to adults and change gradually into the adult form, and "complete metamorphosis" is when there is a profound change between larval and adult forms. Butterflies have complete metamorphosis, grasshoppers have incomplete metamorphosis.


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.


specialized for leaping or bounding locomotion; jumps or hops.

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


offspring are all produced in a single group (litter, clutch, etc.), after which the parent usually dies. Semelparous organisms often only live through a single season/year (or other periodic change in conditions) but may live for many seasons. In both cases reproduction occurs as a single investment of energy in offspring, with no future chance for investment in reproduction.


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.


uses sight to communicate


Bradley, R. 2013. Common Spiders of North America. Berkley and Los Angeles, California: University of California Press.

Chamberlin, Gertsch, R. 1929. New spiders from Utah and California. Entomology Zoology, 21: "101-112".

Edwards Jr., G. 1980. "TAXONOMY, ETHOLOGY, AND ECOLOGY OF Phidippus (ARANEAE: SALTICIDAE) IN EASTERN NORTH AMERICA" (On-line pdf). Accessed April 22, 2014 at

Gardner, B. 1965. Observations on three species of Phidippus Jumping Spiders. Psyche, 72: "133-147". Accessed April 21, 2014 at

MN DNR, 2014. "Phidippus apacheanus" (On-line). Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Accessed April 23, 2014 at