The World’s Cutest Spider

Walking from one building to another this afternoon I was brought up short by a jumping spider on the sidewalk in front of me.  It was just a little thing, less than an inch across, but its black-and-white coloring and its sheer boldness caught my attention.

Jumping spiders are the largest family of spiders – according to Wikipedia there are about 5,000 described species of jumping spider, comprising 13% of all known spider species.  They don’t construct webs, instead actively hunting and pouncing on their prey.  And darn it if they aren’t the cutest spiders you’ll ever see.  They have big, forward-facing eyes, giving them a surprisingly appealing face.  What’s more, because they’re so visual they’re highly curious and interactive.  While I was photographing it, this guy was constantly charging and retreating from my camera lens, waving its front legs in the air, incredibly pugnacious despite being faced with a creature many, many times its size.  “What?  You wanna piece o’ me?”

This one is in the genus Phidippus; those eye-catching green chelicerae give it away.  Eventually I stopped harassing it and it took off into the mulch.  I wish it lots of luck and many delicious bugs!

14 thoughts on “The World’s Cutest Spider”

  1. …you’re right. He does have a cute little face. His eyes are so large. I didn’t know they didn’t build webs, but now that I think about it, I’ve never seen that type of spider on a web! Fun post…

  2. Hi Rebecca. Great photos. I agree completely about the cuteness of this species. I just finish getting my post ready for tomorrow when I clicked over to see what you were up to. As soon as I saw the title I thought “That has to be the same spider I just posted about.” Yep. If enough people say how cute this species is, maybe people will begin to believe that spiders really can be cute.

    1. I think it’s likely, but Bug Guide also includes several other similar-looking Phidippus species that could potentially be found here, so I decided to err on the side of caution. Steve also posted something about daring jumping spiders today, incidentally.

  3. I have one of those spiders living between my window and screen. I was looking today to see what kind it was and ran across your pictures.

    Great photos! :)

  4. it is cute but are they dangerous. having the smiley face on its back is normally not a good spider and can be poisonous. is this spider poisonous?

    1. No, definitely not! Jumping spiders are completely harmless, as are the vast majority of spiders in North America – most skin lesions etc. that people think are “spider bites” are actually caused by something else, such as a skin infection.

  5. I just saw one of them yesterday and thought it was the cutest thing – even tho I am not particularly fond of spiders. I loved its jumping, and boldness, like you witnessed too! Thanks for the great shots and info!

  6. I just a moment ago saw a very small one, maybe half an inch, in my backyard (California Bay Area). It stared at me curiously and I wondered if it might actually attack me. I had NEVER seen this particular type of spider before and was struck by it’s very pretty green chelicerae. I immediately did a web search to try to identify it. Thanks to your page!

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