Zebra spider (Salticus scenicus)

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumArthropoda
ClassArachnida
OrderAraneae
FamilySalticidae
GenusSalticus (1)
SizeFemale length: 5-7 mm (2)
Male length: 5-6 mm (2)

The zebra spider has not yet been classified by the IUCN Red List.

The zebra spider (Salticus scenicus) is one of the most familiar of the British jumping spiders, and is often found on sunny house walls (2). As the name suggests, this small and attractive spider is black with stripes of shining white hairs (2). Males can be distinguished from females as they have a set of huge chelicerae that are used in battles with other males (3).

This species is widespread and common throughout Britain (2). The zebra spider is also widespread throughout Europe, northern Asia and North America (4).

The zebra spider is found on and around walls of buildings, fences, window frames and on tree trunks (2) (1).

Jumping spiders do not make webs; instead they actively hunt their prey by creeping up and then jumping on them, disabling them with their jaws (5). They are equipped with excellent eyesight, and probably have the most developed eyes of any arthropod. Four of the eight eyes are large and forward-facing giving it stereoscopic vision; the other eyes are arranged so that the spider can see completely around its own body (3). If you slowly wave a finger at a zebra spider it is likely to turn so that it has a good view. They leave a line of silk behind them in case they should lose their footing (3).

In males, a pair of leg-like appendages called the pedipalps (or simply ‘palps’) are used to transfer sperm to females during copulation. During courtship, a zebra spider male has to be very careful when approaching the female, or she may react aggressively or even mistake him for a prey species. He signals to the female with his front legs before mating. If successful, he transfers his sperm to the female’s reproductive organ (the epigyne) (3).

The zebra spider is not threatened.

Conservation action is not required for the common zebra spider.

For more on Invertebrates and their conservation see:

Information authenticated by Dr Peter Merrett of the British Arachnological Society:
http://www.britishspiders.org.uk/index.html

  1. National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (January2004)
    http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nbn
  2. Roberts, M. J (1993) The spiders of Great Britain and Ireland, part 1- text. Harley Books, Colchester.
  3. Microscopy UK (January 2004)
    http://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk/mag/indexmag.html?http://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk/mag/artmay00/zeb2.html
  4. Merrett, P (2004) Pers. comm.
  5. Arachnophiliac.com (January 2004)
    http://www.arachnophiliac.com/burrow/british_spiders.htm