The pantropical jumper (Plexippus paykulli) is a cosmopolitan species native to the tropics of Africa and Asia.
It has been introduced to Florida, as well as a number of other locales with extensive, tropical coastlines, probably from hitchhikers that escaped from seagoing vessels.
It is now commonly found in Texas, Mexico, throughout Central America, and in South America as far south as Paraguay.
The genus Plexippus was first described in 1846, by the German arachnologist Ludwig Carl Christian Koch who, in the same year, also described the genus Phidippus.
Both generic names are derived from Greek roots that refer to equine behavior, e.g., in the case of Phidippus, Koch seems to have meant the name to mean “One who spares the horses,” while in the case of Plexippus, his intent seems to have been “One who strikes (or drives) horses.”
The species Plexippus paykulli, was first described by the French naturalist Jean Victoire Audouin in 1826, under the binomial epithet Attus paykulli. The generic name Attus (Walckenaer 1805) has fallen into disuse; though it was used as late as 1903 by Bösenberg, since that date all the species previously listed in that genus have been transferred to other genera.
The specific name paykulli is in the genitive form, representing the surname Paykull, and almost certainly honors the Swedish ornithologist and entomologist Gustaf von Paykull, whose death—on 28 January 1826—was fresh on Audouin’s mind.
This spider is quite common around and inside buildings.
Several photos shown here were taken at a marina in southeast Texas, where it was searching for prey on the outside of a boat.
As the photo of the eyes shows, this species shares with the other jumping spiders in the Salticidae family a set of relatively large anterior eyes (see the AME and ALE eyes in the closeup of the head.
These eyes have remarkable acuity, a feature that assists it in finding and stalking prey.
This species doesn’t spin a web.
Instead, it crafts a retreat of silken strands, usually in an elevated corner, which serves as its primary abode.
From this abode it hunts for prey, which consist primarily of flying insects, some of which have been recorded as twice its size.
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