Zebra spiders are like all other jumping spiders; If you have to have spiders in your house, have jumping spiders. The venom from Zebra jumping spiders is harmless to humans, and the darn things look cute.
Zebra jumping spiders are truly fascinating arachnids. They don’t wait in their web for a meal; they hunt it down. The male zebra spider woos his potential mate with song and dance. And jumping spiders have excellent vision.
Oh, and Zebra jumping spiders can jump. Boy, can they jump!
So, If you just found a Zebra jumping spider in your house, wait for a second and read all about it. Then, hopefully, you’ll let it live.
Zebra spiders: Description.
Female Zebra spiders (Salticus scenicus) range in size from .2 to .35 inches; males are smaller, with the largest being about .25 inches. The males who often struggle with the female and other suitors have larger jaws than the females.
And, of course, there are the eyes of the Zebra spider. It has four pairs of eyes, two of which (the anterior median eyes) are almost comically large and sit next to each other on the spider’s flat face. The larger eyes give the Zebra jumping sider binocular vision.
Zebra spiders are known for their black hairs with white hairs that form zebra-like stripes.
Zebra spiders: Habitat.
Zebra are found across Europe, North America, and North Asia.
Outdoors they are found in open habitats such as the faces of rocks, rocky beaches, and the trunks of trees.
Zebra jumping spiders do not create webs to catch their prey. Instead, jumping spiders build “retreats.” Retreats are more loosely woven and serve only to protect the spider and house the female and her eggs.
You will find Zebra jumping spider retreats inside your home under chairs and tables, near windows and doors, or tucked between cracks in wood flooring. Outside, Zebra jumping spiders build their retreats on leaves, tight spaces in wood piles, and in crevices in tree bark.
Jumping spiders have poor night vision and spend the night in their retreats. During the day, they are attracted to sunlit areas inside your home (windows are a favorite as other insects will be drawn to them). Outside, you’ll find jumping spiders running everywhere the sun has brightened (pool decks, fences, patio stones, etc.).
Aside from the odd, likely trapped against its will, window-dwelling Zerba jumping spiders are not inclined to live inside your home. Indeed, you will never find you have an infestation of jumping spiders.
How Zebra jumping spiders hunt their prey.
Zerba jumping spiders hunt like humans. Some salticid species hunt their prey like human archers hunt deer by taking a high, seated position and then stalking any prey they observe.
Other jumping spiders use the spider version of the “still hunting.” Still hunting is used by bear hunters who continually move, stop, scan, and move again.
Zebra jumping spiders prefer to ambush their prey instead of running after them and chasing them down. To do this, Zebra jumping spiders are willing to take the less traveled road. They will take meandering routes climbing trees and branches and circling behind the vegetation, even to the point where they lose visual contact with their target.
How the Zebra jumping spider catches prey.
After completing its stalk and getting close enough to see its prey, the Zebra jumping spider will stop for a moment. Then, it will spend a few minutes waiting and watching, seemingly puzzling out if this is a suitable target for it.
If the target is prey, the Zebra jumping spider will attach a dragline (an anchor using a strand of its web). This dragline is a safety device to prevent it from falling if it misses its target. It will then get to within slightly less than its leaping distance, take a few steps back, and then jump.
Upon landing on its prey, the Zebra jumping spider injects its fast-acting venom with a quick bite delivered so fast the victim has no time to react. Because the Zebra jumping spider does not bind its prey in a web of silk, the venom is its sole immobilizing tool.
Jumping spiders and their mating behavior.
Love is in the eye of the one beholding a Zebra jumping spider. That excellent vision we’ve mentioned a few times? That vision plays heavily into the mating rituals of Zebra jumping spiders.
Zebra jumping spiders hold intricate, visual courtship displays that include dances and physical attributes. Males entirely use their vividly colored bodies and zigzagging, sliding, and reverberating dance moves. In effect, male zebra jumping spider uses their stripes to signal they wish to mate.
If the female finds the male Zebra jumping spider suitable, she will do nothing more than crouch and await his approach. First, the male will extend his legs toward her and touch her as he does. Then, he will mount her and insert his sperm-covered palps in the reproductive organ on her abdomen if she accepts him.
Are Zebra spiders poisonous?
Jumping spiders will only bite you in self-defense. Indeed, they will flee from you, even if they are protecting their egg sacs. Yes, they possess fangs and venom, but that venom is not poisonous nor a medical concern for humans.
When treating any spider bite, clean the wound with soap and water and apply a cold compress. Adults can take aspirin or an antihistamine (consult your doctors first) to help ease any pain. Consult your physician if symptoms persist for more than a day or worsen.
How to keep Zerba spiders out of your home.
Zebra spiders really are not interested in nesting inside your home. However, it is possible they will forage around and cause potential problems.
To keep Zerba jumping spiders outside and away:
- Consider using a broadcast spider killer to create an acrobat ant-proof, 5,000-square-foot perimeter around your home for the next 12 months. It also can be applied directly to existing webs.
- Cut back any vegetation that could serve as a bridge for acrobat ants to access your foundation (or roof for squirrels).
- Seal off any holes or cracks around windows, pipes, conduits, or doors. I like to use pest blocker foam to keep hornets out of the sheds on my farm.
Having said all that, I implore you NOT to use pesticides to control completely harmless Zebra spiders.
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