Thursday, July 11, 2019

Golden Jumping Spider

Golden jumping spider - Paraphidippus aurantius

The name comes from the Latin aurantium for orange.  A quick look at Bugguide images shows a wide range of colors from orange to black with iridescent green on the abdomen in the right light.  Mine was photographed hanging on the underside of a pawpaw leaf.  Unlike most specimens, this one seemed quite content to hold on for photographs before leaping a foot away into the morning shade.  I got a quick confirmation from Bugguide
Photographs in Amazing Arachnids by Jillian Cowles show the females like ours are lighter in color while the mature males are black with the same pattern of white spots on the dorsal abdomen.  This one is sub-adult both in size and coloration.  You can compare it to the larger adult female above that was jumping around me a few days later.
Two large eyes in the center facing forward.
Wolf and Jumping Spider eyes
The position of a spider's eyes are a key in identifying them to family.  Above you can see the two large eyes positioned like headlights, "the better to pounce on you my dear!"  This arrangement identifies it as a Salticidae family of the jumping spiders.  Their face is flat and facing forward, another distinctive characteristic.

David Edwin Hill
"Salticidae are adapted to detailed, three-dimensional vision for purposes of estimating the range, direction, and nature of potential prey, permitting the spider to direct its attacking leaps with great precision. The anterior lateral eyes, though large, are smaller than the AME and provide a wider forward field of vision. " Wikipedia

Sadly, most of the information on P.
aurantius and its kin are about eliminating them.  These little jumpers don't want to be around us, just like we don't want them in our houses.  They just want to be left alone. has a beautiful set of pictures of the spectrum of colors. 
Update 11-3-2019 
Here is a fascinating article in The Atlantic on the telescopic eyes of jumping spiders and why they will chase a laser pointer.