The Salticid spider family contains a greater number of species than any other spider family in the world, and researchers are discovering more and more Salticid species with each passing year. Well over 6,000 species of Salticid spiders have been documented in a variety of environmental conditions, including tropical, desert, forested and even subarctic regions. More than 350 Salticid species have been documented in the United States and Canada where they are most often found in urban and residential environments. For most people, the term “Salticid” may not ring any bells, but this family of spiders are known to just about everyone as “jumping spiders.” The state of Massachusetts is home to at least 60 jumping spider species, some of which are frequently encountered within homes. The two most commonly encountered jumping spider species within Massachusetts homes are commonly known as the “daring jumping spider” and the aptly named “zebra jumping spider.”

The zebra spider’s prominent black and white-striped appearance makes it easily recognizable despite its relatively small one centimeter body size. Entomologists and spider enthusiasts all over the world marvel over this species’ adaptability and advanced predatory behavior, as the zebra spider’s impressive visual acuity enables it to capture and consume flying mosquitoes and numerous fly species. Since zebra spiders thrive in northern Europe, Russia, Canada and even Greenland, this species is well suited for surviving within the coldest of conditions by migrating into homes and buildings to secure safe shelter. This is why the vast majority of documented zebra spider encounters occur either indoors or along structural foundations outdoors. In the United States, zebra spiders are most often found within and around homes in the northeast during the spring and summer seasons. Although zebra spiders are small, some homeowners become startled and annoyed upon finding these spiders crawling along walls and window screens. While their venom is not considered dangerous to humans, they can inflict painful bites, and they are known for entering homes by hitchhiking on pets and even humans.

Have you ever spotted a spider species hopping about within your home?