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Home > Spider > What Do Jumping Spiders Eat in the Wild and as Pets? Diet & Health Facts

What Do Jumping Spiders Eat in the Wild and as Pets? Diet & Health Facts

Jumping Spider on the branch of the tree_Pixaby

We all know that spiders are incredibly important. That said, while they appreciate everything that spiders do for the world, many people don’t want to get too close to them! But did you know that some spiders can jump?

Jumping spiders are actually quite common, both in the wild and as pets. Of course, if you’re thinking about keeping one as a pet, you’ll need to know what they eat first. Jumping spiders are not picky eaters and mostly eat small insects.

divider-spiderWhat Are Jumping Spiders?

Jumping spiders are actually a family of spiders, specifically the Salticidae family. There are over 6,000 species of jumping spiders in the world, representing 13% of all spider species.

As a result, there will be quite a bit of variation between different species, as they live in different places and eat different things. We can still draw a few general conclusions about their diet, however.

Jumping Spider on the leaf_Pixabay
Image Credit: Pixabay

Where Do Jumping Spiders Live?

Spiders live almost everywhere on Earth, with the exception of the polar regions and the oceans (though some species live in parts of the water).

Since jumping spiders represent a sizable minority of all spider species, they can be found almost everywhere. The bulk of jumping spider species can be found in tropical rainforests, but some species can also be found in deserts, on plains, and even in places as remote as the slopes of Mt. Everest.

There’s one place that they definitely don’t live, however: in webs. These spiders never spin webs to catch their prey, preferring instead to hunt on foot. They’ll use their amazing eyesight to spot and track a tasty little bug and then jump on them and eat them.

While they don’t spin webs, some species still use silk. Spitting spiders, for example, will spit silk on their victims, which will then immobilize them so the spider can eat at its leisure. Conversely, the bolas spider will spin a long strand of silk with a ball at the end that they’ll use to literally fish for prey.

What Do Jumping Spiders Eat in the Wild?

Given that there are thousands of different species of jumping spiders, it would be impossible to list all the critters that have been known to fall victim to these leaping predators. As a general rule, though, they’ll eat anything smaller than they are (and maybe even a few things larger).

They love flying insects like moths and flies, though they usually prefer for them to land rather than tackle them in midair. Crawling bugs like beetles and ants make tasty morsels, and some spiders have even been known to dine on nectar and pollen. Many jumping spiders are also cannibalistic, so even spiders should be afraid of spiders.

Jumping spiders usually prefer to perch high on a branch or blade of grass, so they can have a clear view of the terrain in front of them. Then, once they spot something tasty moving around, they’ll jump on it, bite it quickly in order to inject paralyzing venom, and then feast when their quarry stops moving.

a jumping spider eating cockroach on a green leaf
Image By: Zmrzlinar, Shutterstock

What Role Do Jumping Spiders Play in Their Ecosystem?

Spiders play an essential role in the ecosystem. Without spiders, insect populations would explode. That’s good news for us humans, as spiders are one of the primary predators of bugs like mosquitoes. Without our arachnid friends to keep them in check, these disease-spreading bugs would proliferate, causing untold human casualties.

They’re also good for farmers because they munch on pests like grasshoppers, aphids, and caterpillars. Spiders can prevent crop damage, which can then reduce the risk of famine.

In fact, it’s estimated that spiders could eat as many as 800 million tons of bugs every year. That’s a ton of creepy crawlies, so maybe spiders don’t deserve their bad rap, after all. Then again, scientists also estimate that spiders could theoretically eat every single human on Earth in a year too!

What Animals Eat Jumping Spiders?

Spiders are clearly efficient predators, but that doesn’t mean they’re invulnerable to becoming lunch themselves. There are quite a few animals that snack on spiders, including lizards, frogs, birds, and other spiders. In fact, many female spiders will eat their partners after mating, which both reduces and increases the spider population if you think about it.

Wasps might be the scariest spider predators on the planet. Many parasitic wasps will sting a spider in order to paralyze them, then lay an egg inside the spider’s body. As the egg matures into a larva, the baby wasp will eat the immobilized spider while they’re still alive.

In some places, like Cambodia, spiders are eaten by humans. You can get a deep-fried spider on many street corners, and live spiders are often mixed into rice wine. The belief is that it creates a medicinal liquor. Also, if you’ve ever heard that humans swallow four to eight spiders a year in their sleep, it turns out that that’s not true.

Jumping Spider eating an insect_Pixabay
Image Credit: Pixabay

What Do Jumping Spiders Eat When Kept as Pets?

If you keep a jumping spider as a pet and are not sure what to feed them, the good news is that just like in the wild, they’ll eat almost any insect that’s smaller than they are. That doesn’t mean you should feed them just anything, however.

You can feed your spider virtually any insect that’s commonly sold in pet stores, including flies, crickets, wax worms, and roaches. You might want to get gut-loaded insects, which are bugs that have been fed important nutrients that the spider may not otherwise be able to get in its diet.

There are a few things that you shouldn’t feed your spider, though. This includes any bugs that might eat spiders, like praying mantises, ants, or assassin bugs, and any insects that you’ve caught yourself. The problem with wild-caught bugs is that you don’t know where they’ve been, and they may have been exposed to insecticides or other chemicals that could harm or kill your spider. Fortunately, buying bugs at the store isn’t that expensive, so you shouldn’t need to grab a butterfly net just to feed your pet.

divider-spiderJumping Spiders Aren’t Picky Eaters

If you want to keep a jumping spider as a pet, you’ll likely find that they’re easy to care for, partly because they’re not picky eaters; they mostly eat small insects. Over time, you may even start to think of your pet jumping spider as cute!

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Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

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