We’ve all heard that spiders are good to have around the garden and home. They eat the smaller pests that we really don’t want around – flies, silverfish, aphids, etc. But despite this fact, we don’t want to see them in our house. So, when you decide to move that eight-legged creature outside, it’s nice to know if it’s going to jump or not!
Spiders that do not use webs as a means to catch prey are often equipped with the ability to jump instead. These spiders are known as active hunters and use their jumping ability to catch prey, or in some cases escape bigger predators. Some of the common spiders that can jump include the wolf spider, jumping spider, and tarantulas.
Read on to learn which spider species can jump, how they jump, and why some spiders don’t jump at all. It is always useful to know if the spider you are trying to get out of your house can jump or not.
Do All Spiders Jump?
When you think of a spider, you may picture an eight-legged creature sitting in the middle of a web, waiting for dinner to fall prey to their sticky silk. After all, we grew up watching Charlotte’s Web right?
It may surprise you to learn that of the 30-some-thousand species of spiders, only about half of them spin webs to catch prey. The other half have other means of catching dinner.
Now, just because a spider doesn’t spin a web doesn’t mean they can’t produce silk! In fact, all spiders can produce silk. Some use it to drop from high places, spinning silk out behind them. Others use it as a tracer to find their way back home. Others use it the more commonly known way; to spin a web.
So, why do some spiders make webs and others don’t?
The spiders that spin webs are typically classified as ‘primitive.’ What that means is, they use a passive form of catching prey. Basically, the sit-and-wait method.
The spiders that don’t spin webs use other methods to catch their prey. They may ambush their prey, run it down, or pounce on it.
By and large, the spiders that spin webs do not jump, while the spiders that actively hunt do jump.
This is not true for all hunting spiders. Some active hunters like the crab spider may have the capability to jump, but choose not to. Instead, they rely on camouflage to ambush prey that comes too close.
Why Don’t All Spiders Jump?
Jumping seems like a pretty useful tool if you’re a small spider trying to escape the notice of a meandering snake or watchful bird. So, why don’t all spiders jump?
Jumping can be pretty dangerous for a spider, especially from tall heights. Just like humans, spiders can get hurt if they fall from too high up. They don’t have bones, but they do have a tough exoskeleton that can be damaged, as well as joints and muscles that can get hurt.
Spiders use a very creative means to jump; hydraulics! Yep, you read that right, they use hydraulics to jump.
According to Cornell University, spiders have the incredible ability to control the blood flow throughout their bodies. While they can use muscles and joints to move their legs forward, the way their joints work prevents them from moving the legs any further without help from their hydraulic system.
Spiders increase the blood flow to their legs, which propels them forward one step at a time. Seems like a lot of work, right? But to a spider, it’s the same as breathing. However, it does expend A LOT of energy when they surge the blood enough to propel them into a jump.
Because jumping requires so much energy and can be dangerous to a spider from tall heights, not all spiders jump. Instead, they conserve their energy and wait in their webs for food or else ambush them like the famous trapdoor spider.
How Else Do Spiders Move?
So, some spiders jump, some are lazy and sit in webs. How else might a spider move?
Spiders can move in many different ways. They can walk, run, jump, swim, do controlled falls, and even fly. That last one sent shivers down the spine, didn’t it?
If you can, don’t worry too much about those flying spiders. They don’t have wings. Instead, they let out a strand of silk that gets caught on air currents. When the current is strong enough, it lifts the spider and allows it to float for a while until it lands in a different location.
Spiders always seem too fast for their own good. Luckily, most spiders are pretty slow. Although the camel spider is considered the fastest spider in the world, clocking in at nearly TEN miles per hour (yikes!), these are not true spiders. If talking about true spiders, the fastest one can run about 1 mile per hour.
We humans can easily outpace that!
Some spiders live in aquatic environments, such as the fishing spider. These hydrophilic spiders can go so far as to submerge their bodies beneath the surface of calm waters and await their prey.
Spiders mainly move forward and backward, but some, like the crab spider, can move sideways. Another spider, the flic-flac spider, can somersault!
7 Spider Species That Can Jump
There are tons of spiders out there that can jump, the largest group belonging to the jumping spider family. This large group of spiders consists of about 300 different species in the United States.
Spiders that jump differ from web-building spiders in a few different ways. The most obvious is their method to catch prey. But besides this, they also typically have better vision than web-building spiders.
Let’s take a look at some of the spider species that can jump, and where you might find them in your home.
Wolf spiders are commonly found in basements and ground levels during the fall. Unlike the common household spider, wolf spiders survive outside but sometimes find themselves inside on accident seeking warmth or food.
These creepy-crawlers are fairly easy to identify. They can become quite large, some measuring up to three inches! They are brown, hairy, and fast movers. There are thousands of species of wolf spiders, but all are harmless to people.
Some people confuse them with the brown recluse spider, but it is easy to tell the difference by a few obvious characteristics:
Color: The brown recluse spider is uniform in color, while the wolf spider has patches of light and dark brown stripes along the body. You can sometimes spot a violin shape on the back of a recluse as well, but who wants to get that close!?
Size: Although the brown recluse is the more dangerous spider, it is quite a bit smaller than the wolf spider. Including the legs, a brown recluse can only get up to about 1-inch. A wolf spider can span three inches.
Jumping ability: Unfortunately, both spiders can jump! However, both are unlikely to jump on people and if you have to scoot one, neither are likely to jump in a random direction (your face, for example). Instead, they’ll scurry forward, hopefully out the door!
Like jumping spiders, wolf spiders have terrific vision. They use two large, forward-facing eyes (along with 6 other, smaller eyes) to hunt their prey. There are thousands of species of wolf spider, and each hunt in different ways.
Some use ambush tactics, building tunnels and waiting for prey to come by.
Others actively hunt their prey. It’s these types of wolf spiders that are most likely to jump. They will run down their prey, or wait for prey to crawl by, and pounce! Like most spiders, wolf spiders use their venom to subdue their prey.
The typical diet of a wolf spider includes large insects like crickets and cockroaches. They’ll eat other spiders and some can even snag a small lizard or amphibian.
According to Michigan State University, controlling wolf spiders in your house is usually not necessary. They do not form colonies or families. In most cases, if you see a wolf spider in your house it’s the only one nearby.
As the name suggests, jumping spiders are known for being world-class arachnid leapers. Some can jump 30 times their body length!
Like wolf spiders, jumping spiders have two large forward-facing eyes, along with six other smaller eyes. Of all the spiders, jumping spiders have the BEST vision. They can see up to a foot away and can identify both moving and still prey.
Jumping spiders are easiest to identify when you see them move. They have a very jerky way of moving as if they’re making small hops every time they move instead of walking. They’re typically dark in color and can sometimes have light-colored spots or stripes.
The most common place you will see a jumping spider is outside in your garden. They commonly feed on prey such as aphids, scales, grasshoppers, and other spiders. Jumping spiders can be beneficial to your garden, feeding on pest insects and larvae.
Surprisingly, jumping spiders can also be pollinators, feeding on nectar and pollen when bugs and spiders aren’t available.
When hunting, jumping spiders use their keen eyesight to find prey. They are one of the only species of spider to be able to see color and use this to their advantage. Once they spot their next meal, they orient themselves to face it and jump.
They leave a trail of silk behind them that acts as a dragline so they can jump with as much accuracy as possible and control their speed. They use their venom to subdue their prey. Jumping spiders are often seen by people because they hunt during the day, unlike most spiders who hunt at night.
Yellow Sac Spider
Another common household spider that can jump is the yellow sac spider. These small spiders can be found in the corners of walls and ceilings, where they often hang out during the day while resting.
Yellow sac spiders are nocturnal, active hunters. They are a pale, creamy yellow color with small bodies and spindly legs. These little spiders only get up to a maximum of about 0.4 inches, so if you never see one it’s understandable!
The important thing to note about Yellow sac spiders is that they are known to bite humans. They get mixed up in clothing and sheets while hunting and, when disturbed, they jump and bite!
The bites can be pretty painful, and many people mistake them for brown recluse bites. The area may swell, be slow to heal and become red. If bitten by these little aggressive spiders, be sure to elevate the area. Medical attention is typically not necessary.
Yellow sac spiders dine on other spiders, pest insects, and the eggs of pest insects. They are beneficial to have in the garden, so long as you do not disturb them and illicit their infamous bite!
The Goliath Birdeater, the heaviest spider in the world, belongs to the tarantula family. Many of the world’s largest spiders belong to this relatively docile family of spiders.
Tarantulas only live in desert-like states such as Texas, California, and Arizona. If you’re lucky enough (or unlucky enough if you’re not into spiders) to live in these areas in the fall, you’ll witness a migration of these spiders where large numbers will creep around, looking for mates and warmer climates.
In general, larger-bodied spiders like the wolf spider, tarantula, and jumping spider are more likely to jump because they have stronger legs that are less likely to be injured.
Tarantulas can jump, but not all tarantulas want to. They mainly jump when pouncing on prey, or if threatened and trying to escape.
Although these spiders are terrifyingly big and hairy, they’re unlikely to bite and are not aggressive. They feed on beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers, and crickets.
Huntsman Spider, Camel Spider & Trapdoor Spider
The wolf spider, jumping spider, yellow sac spider, and tarantula are the most commonly found spiders that jump in the United States. Around the world, there are plenty of other spiders that jump.
The huntsman and camel spider are two well-known spiders that have been known to jump on prey. The trapdoor spider springs forward when prey approaches their clever trap door. Plenty of others can jump, but most choose not to due to the high energy cost.
What To Do About Jumping Spiders In The House & Garden
If you’re not big fans of spiders or bugs, we don’t blame you! They creep around on all those legs, scuttling over our bare feet and scaring the heck out of us. It’s no surprise when your first thought is to get them out.
Spiders are very beneficial to have around. As we mentioned before, they tend to eat the pests that are harmful to our plants and pets. Mosquitoes, flies, silverfish, worms, cockroaches, earwigs, and clothes moths are all part of a spider’s diet.
However, we understand that doesn’t give them a free pass to live in your house and garden rent-free. If you want spiders out of the house or garden, there are a couple of things you can do:
Use scents they dislike: Spiders tend to stay away from things that have strong smells. Stuff like vinegar, mint, and peppers can keep them away from certain areas of your house. More on repelling spiders with smells they hate here.
Use sprays: There are some sprays you can use indoors that will repel spiders such as mdxconcepts Spider Repellent. It uses peppermint as one of the main ingredients, so no need to worry about harsh chemical smells in the house.
NOTE: insecticides are not as effective on spiders because they walk on the tips of their legs. They do not come in as much contact with insecticides as, say, a roach might.
Habitat modification: Something that we at Pest Pointers always suggest to keep pests away is modifying your space. Clean up messy brush piles, stack wood neatly and off the ground if possible, trim trees and hedges that are close to the roof and walls of your house.
Don’t give a spider a reason to enter your home: Keep window screens in good condition, don’t leave doors open for long periods, seal any cracks or openings that lead to the outside.
Plant companion plants: Spiders are not big fans of mint. If you really don’t want them in your garden, think about planting mint in a few different locations to discourage them from entering your plant haven.
That’s A Wrap!
Are you thoroughly creeped out yet? We hope not! That’s all we have for now on the 7 different spider species that jump.
To recap, here are the following common spiders that jump, along with three that are not-so-common:
- Wolf spider
- Jumping spider
- Yellow sac spider
- Camel spider
- Huntsman spider
- Trapdoor spider
If you’re trying to keep spiders out of your house in general, you can use scents they dislike, spider repellents, habitat modification, seal your home, and use companion plants to keep them away.
If you’re ever not sure about a spider or feel you may have an infestation in your home, reach out to a professional! Our nationwide pest control network can help get you in contact with a pest control professional for free. Using our partner network helps support pest pointers.
Now that you have all the jumping spider knowledge you’ll ever need to know, you can be confident about the next spider you see and whether it can jump or not!
Baatrup, E., Rasmussen, A. O., & Toft, S. (2018, September). Spontaneous movement behavior in spiders (Araneae) with different hunting strategies. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 125(1), 184-193.
Coyle, F. A., & Icenogle, W. R. (1994). Natural History of the Carlifornian Trapdoor Spider Genus Aliatypus (Araneae, Antrodiaetidae). Journal of Arachnology, 22(3), 225-255. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3705426
Mammola, S., Michalik, P., Hebets, E. A., & Isaia, M. (2017). Record breaking achievements by spiders and the scientists who study them. PeerJ, 5, e3972. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.3972
Ubick, D., Paquin, P., Cushing, P. E., & Roth, V. (2005). Spiders of North America: an identification manual. American Arachnological Society. https://repository.si.edu/bitstream/handle/10088/4365/CoddingtonSNAPhylogeny05.pdf
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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