Jumping Spider Bite: Are They Poisonous or Friendly?
Jumping spiders can be scary to come across. Not only are they a spider, which is terrifying enough for most people, but they jump. Not only do they jump, but they jump fast! These little spiders look cute, but is that just a disguise?
You are probably wondering whether a jumping spider bite is poisonous or not. In this guide, you will learn what a jumping spider is and whether you can consider it a dangerous foe or a friendly companion.
Identifying a Jumping Spider
There are over 4,000 species of jumping spiders, making it the largest family of species in the world. Tropical parts of the globe hold the most species of jumping spiders. Some are also known to survive as high up as the Himalayan Mountains. In North America, roughly 300 species are jumping around. You will find jumping spiders practically everywhere in the world except for the extreme arctic and antarctic regions.
Jumping spiders get their name from when the males of the species jump away from the females if they approach them too fast. These spiders will also leap towards their prey to catch them for a meal. Their hind legs are what help propel them to jump those vast distances.
When they are not jumping around for one reason or another, these spiders enjoy lounging in the sun. You will not see a jumping spider weaving any webs, although it does sometimes hang from a single strand of spider silk so that it does not fall.
There are a few identifiable characteristics of a jumping spider that make it apparent you identified one.
- Size – Jumping spiders are tiny. When they are female, they are between 4.3 and 6.3 millimeters. When they are male, they are between 4 and 5.5 millimeters.
- Eyes – There are eight eyes on this spider. Four of them are in front of its face and four higher up on the sides of its head. These eyes are elongated to look like tubes. The eyes in the front are sharp and clear, whereas the ones higher up have a fuller field of vision. The front eyes act as telescopes that can see farther than they usually would. They can also rotate without moving their heads, allowing for a greater sight of what is around them.
- Legs – The eight legs on a jumping spider are small and compact, yet agile. Legs on a jumping spider are slightly longer than the body. The legs of a jumping spider allow it to jump 25 times their body’s size, which lets them jump far. They can leapfrog using their jumping skills to capture their prey. Their agility makes them difficult to obtain.
- Color – Jumping spiders are mostly black. They have a shiny body with a white spot on the top of the abdomen. Jumping spiders can sometimes also have brown, tan, yellow, blue, or gray on their bodies as well. If there is a color, it probably has made its appearance on one of the thousands of species of jumping spider.
- Fangs – The fangs on a jumping spider look impressive and frightful. These look like pincers on a beetle and will prick you with one fang on each side of the area it decides to bite.
Another interesting feature is their de-facto hearing. Although they do not have ears, they have hairs on their legs that pick up the vibrations of sound waves. These hairs send those vibrations to their brains, where they can be transmitted into a signal, indicating that something is nearby.
Jumping spiders are fast and agile. They are even considered as some of the fastest-moving spiders in existence. Their superior jumping ability is mostly thanks to its high-efficient circulatory system. The way it works is that when their blood pressure increases in their legs, their bodies get projected once the pressure is finally released. It is an incredible system that makes these spiders fascinating.
It may look like they are sometimes acting reckless, but they are actually planning out their jumps with safety gear. They spin a line of silk that they use to stabilize their landing. If, for some reason, they need to stop their jump while in mid-air, they can use this line like a safety net to catch them.
These spiders are great jumpers. However, they are also excellent at camouflaging themselves. To avoid being seen, they will blend in with their surroundings. Blending in with bark is one of their favorite evasive maneuvers. Whenever they feel threatened, they will either see if they can blend into the colors of their environment or run away to safety.
Jumping spiders are sometimes mistaken for Black Widow Spiders, given their small size, shiny body, and black color. These spiders also have fine hairs on their legs that are brightly colored. You want to familiarize yourself with how a jumping spider looks because the last thing you want is to get bitten by a Black Widow Spider.
You will generally find jumping spiders within thick vegetation and grasslands, as well as underneath the bark of trees and rocks. These spiders sometimes make their way into your home but are sometimes walking on the outside of your house as well. You may be accidentally bringing them into your home when you bring in potted plants or something else from your backyard. You will also find jumping spiders living in barns, sheds, and other ancillary structures.
For the most part, you could catch a jumping spider eating the following insects:
Most of these insects are small, but some of them are quite large in comparison to a jumping spider. This may give you an indication of whether jumping spiders are poisonous or not. To find out if they are, you need to keep reading.
Are Jumping Spiders Poisonous, Friendly, or Both?
Now that you know how to tell whether the spider you see is a jumping spider or not, you will probably want to know do jumping spiders bite. Besides that, you will likely want to know are jumping spiders poisonous. Instead of doing a test on yourself and getting bitten, we will clear up this question.
First of all, jumping spiders are friendly enough to catch. You can coax one out of a shrub or somewhere else and put it in your hand or a jar. As long as you handle them with care, you get to enjoy the company of this cute spider. You can even keep it in a container where it can jump around freely, like a terrarium. You can go all the way and make a little bed for it since they enjoy nesting. If you feed it a fly, you will get to see it in action.
Jumping spiders do not like being handled that much, so avoid touching or holding it too much. You can attempt to play with your new friend by running your finger against the glass and seeing them follow it. You may have more fun with a jumping spider than you thought was possible. If you decide you are the kind of person that can be friends with a jumping spider, you should return it to the wild at some point.
A black jumping spider bite can happen. However, it is highly uncommon to get bitten by one of them. It is practically unheard of to get bitten by a jumping spider. They will usually run or jump away from you. When they feel threatened, they will go the other way. The only time it may bite you is if you have trapped it and are taunting it. If you have a jumping spider bite you, do not be alarmed. You will experience redness, itching, stinging, and some minor swelling.
The swelling will go away quickly since the venom a jumping spider injects into you is not strong enough to do much harm. Most people notice the swelling and itching goes away after a day or two. This is not the type of bite you need to be overly concerned about. You have probably had worse mosquito bites in your life and will likely be grateful it is so benign.
Jumping spiders contain venom. However, the toxin is only strong enough to kill something close to its size. You can compare a bite by a jumping spider to a mosquito bite or a mild bee sting. This should show you the degree of harm that can befall you if you get bitten. The only people that should be concerned about getting bit by a jumping spider are those who are allergic. However, this is no different than being allergic to anything else. Bites from jumping spiders are benign.
How to Treat a Jumping Spider Bite
You may not even feel that you need to address a bite by a jumping spider. However, if you want to play it safe, you can clean the bitten area with soap and water. After you have cleaned the bite, you can place a cold compress on it. An ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables will work well. Keep your affected body part, which is usually an arm or leg, raised. This will also help reduce any swelling you may have.
If you want to stop feeling the mild pain that can come from a jumping spider bite, take an aspirin or acetaminophen. To reduce the itching sensation, you can pick up an over-the-counter antihistamine. You can also apply a cream or ointment specifically designed to treat spider bites. Taking a cream may seem like overkill for a simple spider bite, but it will provide you with relief from the itching and swelling that can come with any insect bite.
When You Should Seek Medical Attention
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms after 48 hours, you should consider seeking medical attention.
- Difficulty breathing
- More swelling
- More pain
- Prolonged symptoms
If, after a couple of days, you are still dealing with any unpleasant issues from the spider bite, you are either allergic or you got bit by a different spider. Seek a diagnosis from a medical professional who can give you a more accurate read on your situation.
Why Jumping Spiders Bite
A jumping spider will only resort to biting you if it feels threatened. They will sense any fear you may have, which can make matters worse for you in the end. Avoid giving them the wrong impression and keep as calm as you can. If you are generally afraid of spiders, this will obviously be more difficult to do. However, since you now know they are mostly harmless, this should be easier for you at this point.
A few other reasons jumping spiders may bite you are the following:
- A female jumping spider feels her eggs or nest are being disturbed by someone. If you ever get between a mother jumping spider and her eggs, be prepared to get bitten.
- You have picked up a jumping spider and accidentally, or intentionally, squeezed their bodies. They will feel that there is an immediate danger to their lives and will do the only thing they can at the moment to survive.
As you can tell, they are only going to bite you if they feel their life is on the line. It is a basic survival mechanism for most living things, so it should come as no surprise they would bite you if it meant they get to live. If you leave them alone, you will avoid getting bitten by these rather benign spiders. They are more afraid of you than anything.
Now that you know the truth about jumping spiders, you can rest easy to know that you do not have that much to worry about. Although jumping spiders do bite you, they will not land you in a hospital. You do not have to be concerned because it is relatively harmless to get bitten by one. At most, you will feel some temporary pain and redness. You can now rest easy knowing there is virtually no threat from jumping spiders.
Can jumping spiders harm pet dogs or pet cats?
A jumping spider is not nearly harmful to your pets. They are shy and prefer running away from the vicinity rather than attacking. If it doesn’t harm you, it can’t harm your pets. Interestingly, you can consider keeping it as a pet. You should be worried about these spiders instead, the black widow, brown recluse, hobo and the yellow sac. These spiders can not only harm your pets but you too.
How can I tell the difference between a jumping spider and a black widow?
Jumping spiders look very similar to the black widow, they are invariably mistaken due to their compact black bodies with relatively short legs. However, the striking difference between these two is the coloured hourglass-shaped mark on the abdomen of the black widow. Another distinction is that a black widow will always remain black but for the jumping spiders can vary from brown and tan with markings of either green, yellow or blue. The jumping spider has dense hairs with very bright colours.
Should I be worried if my child accidentally swallows a jumping spider?
Worrying can be futile in this situation. The venom of a jumping spider needs to be subjected to the bloodstream directly to be effective. Swallowing the spider will not release the venom into the body. Fortunately, the stomach acid will break the protein venom component and the amino acids and be absorbed for later reuse. In short stomach acid destroys the venom.
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