Kieran caught a tiny, fuzzy jumping spider today on Mt. Diablo. As there are 33 genera and 119 or more named species of salticids in California, it ain’t very easy to narrow this one down much further. It’s not as easy to identify as the bright red Johnson Jumper (Phidippus johnsoni)! However, it could be in the genus Phidippus, but also in Pelegrina (P. aeneola, anyone?) or perhaps Platycryptus. The spider’s gray color and the chevron-type markings on its abdomen camouflage it well.
Jumping spiders are awfully cute and quite fun to observe and study. There are still many undiscovered species of these tiny, often overlooked critters. As R.J. Adams put it in his Field Guide to the Spiders of California and the Pacific Coast States, “Identifying jumping spiders can be one of the most difficult and most gratifying of arachnological challenges.”
Unlike this cryptic spider, many salticids are brightly colored — the males show off like birds of paradise to impress their mates — and so studying them is a lot like birdwatching, Adams says.
Jumping spiders have large eyes — visible in some of these photographs — and excellent vision. They need great binocular vision in order to leap onto their prey.