Habronattus texanus (Chamberlin, 1924)
A Jumping Spider
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Basis for Listing
Although Habronattus texanus (a species of jumping spider) is a fairly widespread species, it has a very spotty distribution in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains. It is an understudied species in Minnesota, where it is currently known from only two localities in the southern part of the state: Lincoln and Le Sueur counties (Richman and Cutler 1977). Spider species that are known from three or more sites in Minnesota but that have significant range restrictions or particular habitat associations that make their populations appear vulnerable from a conservation standpoint, require some level of protections status. Habronattus texanus was designated a species of special concern in 1996.
Jumping spiders are one of the most recognizable spiders as they generally have a stout body, rather short legs, a very large set of eyes, and the ability to jump. Their body shapes and colors often imitate prey such as ants and beetles. Habronattus texanus is about 4-6 mm (0.16-0.24 in.) long. The female's abdomen is tan to gray with white chevrons or spots; the male abdomen has a central white or tan band.
In Minnesota, this species is recorded from dry prairie slopes in the Inner Coteau and Big Woods subsections; and Cutler (1990) reported it from human-disturbed and urban sites such as city lots, railroad yards, weedy margins of industrial complexes, and from under cover objects such as cans, wood, cardboard, and paper. Elsewhere in its range, Edgcumbe (2014) documents this species from cranberry bogs and blueberry fields.
Biology / Life History
The life history of H. texanus is poorly known. It may be more active on ground stratum than on vegetation, which perhaps accounts for its scarcity in sweep net samples. Habronattus texanus shares a number of general traits with other species in the group.
Jumping spiders do not spin webs for catching prey. Instead, they use silk to construct small tent-like silken retreats under rocks or logs or on plants, which they use at night and during hibernation. The females also lay their eggs in them. Jumping spiders are most active during the day, and they prefer sunshine. They tend to stay in their retreats on cloudy or rainy days. Jumping spiders are generally interested in whatever approaches them and will often turn and face human observers and may even advance towards them. They are harmless to people.
Jumping spiders have four pairs of eyes with the large principal pair giving them better vision than other spiders. The forward-looking placement of this pair of eyes provides binocular vision enabling them to judge distances accurately; they are able to identify prey, predators, and mates from up to 30 cm (1 ft.) away (Weber 2002). Physiological and behavioral experiments have demonstrated that they have color vision possibly extending into the ultraviolet range.
Jumping spiders feed primarily on insects, though some feed on other spiders. They even feed on other jumping spiders usually those that are smaller than themselves. Jumping spiders actively stalk their prey instead of snaring it in a web. They may, however, steal insects snared by the webs of other spiders. Jumping spiders hunt primarily during the day using their keen eyesight to find prey. Having spotted their quarry, a jumping spider will slowly stalk the prey until it is within jumping distance. Then it lifts its front legs and pounces. Like all spiders, jumping spiders move their legs not by muscular contractions but by changing the pressure of the fluid within them. This hydraulic system enables them to jump up to several times their body length without having large muscular legs. Before jumping, the spider always affixes a silk safety line to whatever it is jumping from; in case it falls, it can climb back up this tether.
The same visual capabilities that are critical to jumping spiders’ success as hunters also support complex courtship behaviors. Males often differ in appearance from females and can have colorful, sometimes iridescent, modifications to their bodies, front legs, or mouthparts. The parts of the male's body that are used in courtship are often conspicuously colored. In many jumping spider species, the male performs courtship dances in front of the female that are species specific. The male's movements range from a slight lifting of a leg to complex movements such as bobbing their bodies, twitching their abdomen, performing zig-zag movements, waving their front legs, or flashing their mouthparts into the eyes of the females. Some male jumping spiders also have auditory signals that, when amplified, sound like buzzes or drum rolls. It is presumed that females choose mates based on the males’ courtship dances. After mating, females lay their eggs in their silken retreat and often guard their eggs and newly hatched young.
Conservation / Management
Although remnants of natural areas may often be too small or isolated to sustain populations of some rare vertebrates, they can be suitable for maintaining invertebrates. Each additional site increases the opportunities for trying different management techniques. Benign to humans, diverse, colorful, and behaviorally complex, jumping spiders may be good ambassadors for their kin and invertebrates in general.
Best Time to Search
The best time of year to survey for this species is from June through September.
Conservation Efforts in Minnesota
In Minnesota, this species is confirmed by specimens collected from only two locations (Lincoln and Le Sueur counties) in 1978. However, both sites were re-sampled in early summer 1996 and again in 2015, and no individuals were found (Ehmann and Boyd 1997). Although both sites are protected by The Nature Conservancy (Ottawa Bluffs and Hole-in-the-Mountain Prairie), the Le Sueur County locality is adjacent to an active quarry. The best potential for new records of this species may exist in southwestern Minnesota in relict or restored prairie (Aaseng 1993) within the Minnesota and Northeast Iowa Morainal and North Central Glaciated Plains ecological sections. Any new records of this species will be of high interest.
References and Additional Information
Aaseng, N. 1993. Invertebrates: a venture book, venture books-science. F. Watts, New York, New York. 110 pp.
Cutler, B. 1990. Synanthropic Salticidae of the northeast United States. Peckhamia 2(6):91-92.
Edgcumbe, A. 2014. Habronattus viridipes [On-line], Animal Diversity Web. Accessed 08 May 2016. <http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Habronattus_viridipes>.
Ehmann, W. J. 2002. Conservation biology of special concern jumping spiders (Araneae: Salticidae) of Minnesota. Final Report submitted to the Natural Heritage and Nongame Research Program, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 11 pp.
Ehmann, W. J., and B. E. Boyd. 1997. Surveys for proposed special concern jumping spiders of Minnesota. Final report submitted to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 18pp.
Foelix, R. F. 1996. Biology of spiders. Second edition. Oxford University Press, New York, New York. 336 pp.
Forster, L. M., and M. R. Forster. 1999. How do jumping spiders catch up on their prey?: a model for pursuit behaviour. (Araneae; Salticidae). Preliminary Draft, 06 Aug 1999.
Griswold, C. E. 1987. A revision of the jumping spider genus Habronattus F. O. P.-Cambridge (Araneae: Salticidae), with phenetic and cladistic analyses. University of California Publications on Entomology 107. University of California, Berkely. 344 pp.
Maddison, W. 1994. Jumping spiders of America north of Mexico [web application]. Tree of Life web project, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. <http://tolweb.org/accessory/Jump>. Accessed 16 Aug 2006.
Maddison, W. P. 2015. A phylogenetic classification of jumping spiders (Araneae: Salticidae) Journal of Arachnology 43:231-292.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 2005. Field guide to the native plant communities of Minnesota: the eastern broadleaf forest province. Ecological Land Classification Program, Minnesota County Biological Survey, and Natural Heritage and Nongame Research Program. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, St. Paul, Minnesota. 394 pp.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 2005. Field guide to the native plant communities of Minnesota: the prairie parkland and tallgrass aspen parklands provinces. Ecological Land Classification Program, Minnesota County Biological Survey, and Natural Heritage and Nongame Research Program. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, St. Paul, Minnesota. 362 pp.
Richman, D. B., and B. Cutler. 1978. A list of the jumping spiders (Araneae: Salticidae) of the United States and Canada. Peckhamia 1(5):82-110.
Weber, L. 2002. Spiders of the North Woods (North Woods naturalist guides). Kollath-Stensaas Publishing, Duluth, Minnesota. 216 pp.
Wikipedia contributors. 2010. Jumping spider. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jumping_spider>. Accessed 15 April 2010.