Phidippus johnsoni – A Big, Beautiful Jumping Spider

Different perspectives of the same individual.

Different perspectives of the same individual.

A very nice female example of her species…

These large salticids are abundant here in Port Angeles and are one of six species recorded within Washington State (other species linger at locations just outside of our borders). I’ve only seen Phidippus audax (actually an introduced species) and this one, Phidippus johnsoni. The other species I’ve seen is under debate, but it resembles Phidippus octopunctatus superficially. I’ve only seen an adult male.

They are common throughout Western North America, in the USA, being found in the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming (Info taken from my copy of the Revision of the Jumping Spiders of the genus Phidippus, by G.B. Edwards)

They thrive in very diverse habitats, but are commonly found in retreats placed beneath stones and other natural structures closer to the ground, like logs.

Our yard P. johnsoni are also found inside man-made structures like picnic tables, cracks in concrete, the side of the house or in piles of firewood.

They have excellent binocular vision and are very alert. More often than not, both males and females of the species are rather bland colored, lacking any interesting clypeus fringe (the white ‘mustache’ under her eyes) and the teal color on the chelicerae is usually very subdued, sometimes nearly black. The abdomen can be like this too, but usually sports at least a decent flash of red. This female was in fine condition, with bright, highly saturated colors, vibrant eyes and ample setae. They are generally not nearly as hairy as say, P. regius, from Florida, which is why overall, they look black and somewhat shiny.

I’ve noticed that both males and females of this species tend to be a little bit more comfortable biting than say, P. audax. The other day a male gently bit me (just hard enough to let me know he was not completely happy, but not forceful enough to break the skin or envenomate me) and he did this even though he was relatively free in my hand.

I love seeing these spiders! Interacting with them always reminds me why it was this genus in particular that changed my perspectives on spiders so quickly!


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