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Marpissa formosa

What do they look like?

Marpissa formosa has four sets of legs, with the first set being slightly shorter than the rest. The abdomen is marked with a band. This genus is well-known for having short bodies and a large set of eyes. Females of this species are dark brown, with a narrow black band and occasionally some white scales. The first pair of legs are brown and the rest are yellow. Males are a darker shade of brown with the narrow black band with patches of white scales. Patches of black hairs surround the eyes. ("Rare Species Guide", 2014; Barnes, 1958; Shelford, 1963)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • female larger
  • male more colorful
  • Range length
    5.75 to 8 mm
    0.23 to 0.31 in
  • Average length
    7 mm
    0.28 in

Where do they live?

Marpissa formosa is a jumping spider found in a small part of North America. It has been seen in Minnesota and Michigan in the United States, and Ontario and Quebec in Canada. It is likely found in more places, such as Wisconsin. ("NatureServe Explorer", 2013; Coffin and Pfannmuller, 1988; Shelford, 1963)

What kind of habitat do they need?

Marpissa formosa lives in areas near rivers and lakes. ("Rare Species Guide", 2014)

How do they grow?

There is little known about the development of Marpissa formosa. Most jumping spider species are laid as eggs in the spring and summer, guarded by the female parent. They hatch as young spiders and remain under the protection of the female usually for about a month. The young spiderlings then leave the nest to hunt and live independently. They shed their skin several times before becoming adults that are able to reproduce. ("Rare Species Guide", 2014)

How do they reproduce?

Males have obvious colors and patterns to attract the attention of females. Male jumping spiders do complex courtship dances to attract females. They will lift their legs, bob, twitch, flash their mouth parts, and move in zig-zag motions. Some males also produce sounds like buzzing noises to go along with their movements. Females will choose to mate with males based on their dance moves. ("Rare Species Guide", 2014)

After mating, females will lay their eggs in silk tents that the males build. The females guard their eggs, and also guard the young spiders once they hatch for about a month. ("Rare Species Guide", 2014)

Female jumping spiders will guard their eggs and young offspring. After the young leave, they do not return and there is no more parental care. ("Rare Species Guide", 2014; Guarisco, et al., 2001)

  • Parental Investment
  • female parental care
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-independence
    • protecting
      • female

How long do they live?

It is not known how long Marpissa formosa lives, but most jumping spiders do not live more than a year.

How do they behave?

Marpissa formosa moves around in quick, jerky movements. These spiders do not spin webs, but instead they build small tents of silk. They sit in their tents and wait for prey to move past. Sometimes they will also stalk their prey, following it until they are close enough to jump on it. They will then lift their front legs and jump on it. The spider can jump over twice the length of its body. They hunt during the day, when their eyesight is the strongest. Jumping spiders, including those in the genus Marpissa have been shown in laboratory experiments to learn and get better at hunting over time. They will learn from encounters with certain prey animals. If they have a bad encounter with an insect, they will avoid that insect the next time. ("Rare Species Guide", 2014)

How do they communicate with each other?

Jumping spiders have very good eyesight. Their eight eyes allow for color vision, motion detection, binocular vision, and high visual acuity. This allows for Marpissa formosa to move around its environment, find mates, and locate prey. During courtship dances, males also communicate with females by making buzzing sounds and other noises. ("Rare Species Guide", 2014; Liedtke and Schneider, 2014)

What do they eat?

Maripossa formosa eats insects and will sit and wait for prey to pass. These spiders will generally take an interest in anything that approaches them, but generally will feed on insects, including web-building spiders, or other jumping spiders that are smaller than them in size. Other related spiders are known to steal prey from the webs of spiders as well. ("Rare Species Guide", 2014; Sadana, 1991)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • terrestrial non-insect arthropods

What eats them and how do they avoid being eaten?

There are no known predators of Marpissa formosa, but in general, jumping spiders are eaten by mammals, birds, lizards, wasps, and other spiders. (Guarisco, et al., 2001)

What roles do they have in the ecosystem?

Marpissa formosa is a predator of many other insect and spider species. These jumping spiders also serve as prey to a variety of predators, including mammals, birds, and other spiders. ("Rare Species Guide", 2014; Guarisco, et al., 2001)

Do they cause problems?

Marpissa formosa does not cause any problems for humans.

How do they interact with us?

Marpissa formosa eats insects that may be harmful to humans. This helps to limit future harm or damage by the pest insects. (Guarisco, et al., 2001)

  • Ways that people benefit from these animals:
  • controls pest population

Are they endangered?

Marpissa formosa is not an endangered species.


Gina Thompson (author), Minnesota State University Mankato, Robert Sorensen (editor), Minnesota State University, Mankato, Angela Miner (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.


2013. "NatureServe Explorer" (On-line). Accessed April 19, 2014 at

2014. "Rare Species Guide" (On-line). Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Accessed April 19, 2014 at

Barnes, R. 1958. North American Jumping Spiders of the Sub-Family Marpissinae (Araneae, Salticidae). American Museum Novitates, 1867: 1-50. Accessed March 20, 2014 at

Beccaloni, J. 2009. Arachnids. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Bradley, R. 2012. Common Spiders of North America. California: University of California Press.

Coffin, B., L. Pfannmuller. 1988. Minnesota's Endangered Flora and Fauna. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press for the Natural Heritage and Nongame Wildlife programs of the Division of Fish and Wildlife, Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources.

Comstock, J. 1913. The Spider Book. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Page & Company.

Guarisco, H., B. Cutler, K. Kinman. 2001. Checklist of Kansas Jumping Spiders. The Kansas School Naturalist, 41: 1. Accessed March 20, 2014 at

Guarisco, H., H. Fitch. 1995. Spiders of the Kansas Ecological Reserves. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science, 98: 118-129.

Liedtke, J., J. Schneider. 2014. Association and reversal learning abilities in a jumping spider. Behavioural Processes, 103: 192-198.

Sadana, G. 1991. Mode of hunting and functional respose of the spider Marpissa tigrina (Salicidae: Arachnida) to the density of its prey, Diaphornia citri. Entomon, 16/4: 279-282. Accessed April 23, 2014 at

Shelford, V. 1963. The Ecology of North America. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

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Thompson, G. 2014. "Marpissa formosa" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed May 28, 2024 at

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
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