I haven’t always been the biggest fan of spiders, but there’s one group that I’ve loved for as long as I can remember: the jumping spiders in the Salticidae family. These charismatic spiders, sometimes called “salties” by their enthusiasts, are intelligent, expressive, interactive, and downright adorable compared to most spiders. But don’t take my word for it! Today’s Friday 5 is all about convincing you all that salties are the best.
Reason Number One: The Eyes
Check out the eyes on this little saltie, compliments of the magnificent Thomas Shahan:
Salties have very large eyes and are incredibly visual little spiders. Their eyes are part of what give them their personalities as they are quite capable of and willing to follow you with their eyes – they can really watch you in a way most other spiders cannot. (They’ll also interact with their reflections in camera lenses, which results in some of the really great head on shots of salties that you see around the web and among Shahan’s work.) I think their ability to watch you and interact with you makes them seem a little less alien than many spiders – and much more palatable to more people.
Reason Number Two: The Hairdos!
Some salties have wild hairdos. They can have little mohawks, beards, mustaches, spiky hair… I think the hair makes these guys absolutely adorable! I mean, how can anyone be scared of an animal, even a spider, with such ridiculous looking bedhead?:
Reason Number Three: Saltie Mating Dances
If you’ve never seen one of the saltie mating dances, you’re in for a treat today! Researcher Jürgen Otto works with Australian peacock spiders and has captured some hilarious footage of their mating dances, including this:
SO funny! I’ve watched this several times already and it makes me laugh every time. Nature is so bizarre. And awesome. Completely awesome.
Reason Number Four: Peacock Jumping
Spiders Rock. Enough Said.
The peacock spider in the previous video was pretty impressive, but they don’t hold a candle to this amazing, brilliantly colored beast, also recorded by Jürgen Otto:
Isn’t it great to live in a world where such crazy looking animals exist? Peacock spiders alone would make me think that salties are the best spiders, even without all the other crazy things they’ve got going on. They’re just that cool.
Reason Number 5: They Are Amazing
I saw a TED talk a few weeks ago by Mark Berman about appreciating insects and their relatives. I really enjoyed it, especially as promoting insect awareness and a greater love for insects is one of my personal goals. It’s a bit longer and more academic than the other videos I’ve included here, but it’s well worth watching. And why is it in my saltie Friday 5 post? Because Berman uses salties as an example of an amazing arthropod – and has more hilarious video footage of saltie mating rituals to share:
I really love the quote at the end:
“The more moments in time you take to look again, the more amazed you’ll be by the world we live in. But I suggest you shouldn’t be surprised. You should come to get used to amazing things in your world.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself! Love the salties and be amazed by them – but never be surprised by any of their fantastic and wonderful traits.