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Phidippus apacheanus

What do they look like?

Phidippus apacheanus is a large jumping spider. It ranges in size from 3.3 mm (small males) to 22 mm (large females). The mouthparts are iridescent green. The female is black with orange on top of the body. There is often a black stripe on the abdomen. The back color is yellow, orange, or red. The underside is black. There are many small light spots or a light band on the abdomen. The male is similar but has solid coloration and is more often red-orange. The mouthparts of the male are dark. For the most part, young spiders have color patterns similar to adult females. (Bradley, 2013; Chamberlin, Gertsch, 1929; Edwards Jr., 1980; Gardner, 1965)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • female larger
  • sexes colored or patterned differently
  • Range length
    3.3 to 11 mm
    0.13 to 0.43 in
  • Average length
    22 mm
    0.87 in

Where do they live?

The jumping spider Phidippus apacheanus is found in the southwestern states of the United States. It is most common from Nebraska to Utah and south to Texas and Arizona. It has been seen as far north as southern Minnesota and southern Wisconsin. (Bradley, 2013; Chamberlin, Gertsch, 1929; Edwards Jr., 1980)

What kind of habitat do they need?

These jumping spiders live in dry grasslands, fields, and deserts at elevations up to 1800 m. They are often seen on shrubs, cacti, and other plants in these hot, dry areas. They also live in suburban and agricultural areas, such as on fence posts, in barns, and on roads. In deserts, they build their nests on the undersides of leaves and in between thorns on cactus. (Bradley, 2013; Chamberlin, Gertsch, 1929; Edwards Jr., 1980; Gardner, 1965)

  • Range elevation
    500 to 1800 m
    1640.42 to 5905.51 ft

How do they grow?

After hatching from eggs, immature spiders can be found throughout the spring and summer. They shed their skin (molt) 3 times before maturing into adults. This can take several weeks. Adults are not present until September or October. (Chamberlin, Gertsch, 1929; Edwards Jr., 1980)

How do they reproduce?

To attract female mates, males of this species do a long, complex courtship dance. The male raises his body in the air, shifts it from side to side, and raises his front legs. He zig-zags slowly towards the female in this position, until he is close enough to the female to touch her with his front legs. Before he can touch her, the female will perform an acceptance dance if she wants to mate with him. She sways back and forth in front of him, and then the male will touch her once or twice with his front legs. He then climbs on top of her and moves her abdomen from one side to the other. He uses his mouthparts to transfer his sperm to her genital opening. (Chamberlin, Gertsch, 1929; Gardner, 1965)

Mating and reproduction take place during the fall. After mating, the female lays two to three batches of eggs. The eggs hatch after about 18 to 25 days. The young spiders remain in the nest for up to 21 days after hatching, through the first time they shed their skin. The female generally guards the nest until the young spiders leave to live on their own, and she usually dies shortly after. (Chamberlin, Gertsch, 1929; Gardner, 1965)

  • How often does reproduction occur?
    Phidippus apacheanus mates once in its life.
  • Breeding season
    Mating takes place in the fall.
  • Range number of offspring
    80 to 200
  • Average number of offspring
  • Range gestation period
    18 to 25 days
  • Average gestation period
    22 days
  • Range time to independence
    16 to 24 days
  • Average time to independence
    22 days
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    5 to 7 months
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    5 to 7 months

Females give a lot of care to their spider babies. The young spiders stay in the nest for up to 21 days after hatching. During this time, the female parent protects them from predators and helps to keep them alive until they leave the nest to live and hunt on their own. After the young spiders leave the nest, they do not return. (Gardner, 1965)

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

How long do they live?

The lifespan of Phidippus apacheanus is unknown, though females die shortly after their young spiders leave the nest. Many of the young spiders die after they leave the nest, no longer under the protection of their mother. (Chamberlin, Gertsch, 1929; Gardner, 1965)

How do they behave?

Phidippus apacheanus does not spin webs for catching prey. Instead, it builds small little tents out of silk under rocks or logs or on plants. They stay in their tents during the night and during the winter. The females will also lay their eggs in them. Jumping spiders are most active during the day, and they prefer sunshine. They tend to stay in their tents on cloudy or rainy days.

Young spiders are ready to hunt for prey not long after hatching. Laboratory studies have shown that the spiders learn how to be better hunters with practice. They have been shown to learn from bad encounters with other organisms, and will avoid them in the future. (Chamberlin, Gertsch, 1929; MN DNR, 2014)

How do they communicate with each other?

Jumping spiders have four pairs of eyes that give them very good vision. Their vision allows them to judge distances and to identify prey, predators, and mates from up to a foot away. They also have color vision, and can probably see ultraviolet light. Vision and touch are also used to communicate during courtship rituals, as the male performs a series of visual, physical moves, and also touches the female with his forelegs before mating. (Chamberlin, Gertsch, 1929; Gardner, 1965; MN DNR, 2014)

  • Perception Channels
  • visual
  • ultraviolet

What do they eat?

Phidippus apacheanus is carnivorous and preys on a large variety of small insects, including flies, Hymenoptera, butterflies and moths, beetles, Odonata, Orthoptera, Hemiptera, and other spiders. (Edwards Jr., 1980)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • terrestrial non-insect arthropods

What eats them and how do they avoid being eaten?

Predators of Phidippus apacheanus include wasps (Pompilidae and Sphecidae), mantis flies and flies that eat their eggs, predaceous fungi, frogs, lizards, birds, other spiders, and lizards (Anolis carolinensis and Sceloporus undulatus).

These jumping spiders appear to mimic the western velvet ant, Dasymutilla flammifera. Velvet ants are actually wasps that have a very painful sting. They are red with black appendages, which looks similar to these jumping spiders. By looking like velvet ants, the spiders can trick predators into thinking that they are velvet ants, not spiders. Many predators know not to eat velvet ants because of their painful sting, so they will avoid eating the spiders too. (Edwards Jr., 1980)

  • These animal colors help protect them
  • mimic

What roles do they have in the ecosystem?

These jumping spiders are an important part of the food web. They eat many insects and other spiders. They are also eaten by many other animals, including other spiders, birds, frogs, and lizards. These spiders can also be attacked by some parasites, which use their body as a food source or to lay their eggs inside the spiders. These parasites include hunchback flies and nematode parasitoids, as well as wasps that lay their eggs inside the eggs of the spiders. (Edwards Jr., 1980)

Commensal or parasitic species (or larger taxonomic groups) that use this species as a host

Do they cause problems?

This species of jumping spider has not been known to cause any harm to humans. Other jumping spiders have been known to bite if handled, but usually these spiders will hide or run from a human. Even if they do bite, it is said that it is not very painful and the pain does not last more than a few minutes. (Edwards Jr., 1980)

  • Ways that these animals might be a problem for humans
  • injures humans
    • bites or stings
  • household pest

How do they interact with us?

Phidippus apacheanus eats some insects that are harmful to humans, such as crop pests. This helps to control the pest populations and stop future damage. (Edwards Jr., 1980)

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

Are they endangered?

Phidippus apacheanus is not an endangered species.


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


Bradley, R. 2013. Common Spiders of North America. Berkley and Los Angeles, California: University of California Press.

Chamberlin, Gertsch, R. 1929. New spiders from Utah and California. Entomology Zoology, 21: "101-112".

Edwards Jr., G. 1980. "TAXONOMY, ETHOLOGY, AND ECOLOGY OF Phidippus (ARANEAE: SALTICIDAE) IN EASTERN NORTH AMERICA" (On-line pdf). Accessed April 22, 2014 at

Gardner, B. 1965. Observations on three species of Phidippus Jumping Spiders. Psyche, 72: "133-147". Accessed April 21, 2014 at

MN DNR, 2014. "Phidippus apacheanus" (On-line). Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Accessed April 23, 2014 at

University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

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vrtacnik, j. 2014. "Phidippus apacheanus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 24, 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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