Vegetarian Jumping Spiders in Blanco, Texas?

This article by Jerry Cates and Katie Baker, first published on 1 December 2012, was last revised on 16 January 2018. © Bugsinthenews Vol. 13:12(01).


Salticidae: Bagheera male; Katie Baker, Blanco, TX; 26 NOV 2012 --- frontodorsal habitus

Katie’s Spider, resting on her hand…

Katie wrote me on 26 November 2012:

Hello, Jerry:

I found this spider the other day in Blanco, Texas. It looks like a type of jumping spider. However, I cannot find any information regarding what species it might be. Thank you so much! I hope you can help.


My first glance at Katie’s photo (fig. 001) gave me a surprise. The elongated jaws projecting from the spider’s face (known as chelicerae) of the spider she photographed were so long and narrow they have the appearance of a separate pair of legs, unlike the mouthparts of most of the spiders I’ve worked with in the past. The animal’s eight legs confirm it as an arachnid, and its body and well-formed eyes confirmed it to be an araneid — as opposed to a tick, mite, scorpion, harvestman, or solpugid.

Looking closer, I had to agree with Katie that its body and the arrangement of the eyes were those of a jumping spider, which would place it in the spider family Salticidae. Her opinion, most likely, was bolstered by watching its behavior, as it vaulted about with the seeming careless abandon for which jumping spiders are known.

But what was its exact identity? The Salticidae is the largest of the spider families; worldwide it is presently (as of early 2018) divided into more than 600 genera, and over 6,000 species…

As explained below, the identity of this jumping spider (Bagheera prosper) was quickly established by using the dichotomous key found in the authoritative book, “Spiders of North America: an identifification manual,” edited by Ubick et al., and published by the American Arachnological Society.

A Note about the book “Spiders of North America: An Identification Manual”…

At the time Katie’s photos arrived (November, 2012), the best reference available for identifying spiders found in North America to family and genus was the book referred to above (which was in its first edition and thus is hereafter referred to as SNAIM1).

This book, which I usually consult several times a day, was edited by Darrell Ubick, Pierre Paquin, Paula E. Cushing, and V. Roth, and published in 2005 by the American Arachnological Society. Though a number of important revisions had been made to araneid taxonomy between 2005 and 2012, it remained the premier identification guide for spiders in North America until 2017, when it was replaced by a second edition, hereafter referred to as SNAIM2. As with the 1st edition, the appendices of SNAIM2 include a robust glossary and pronunciation guide, replete with detailed drawings crafted by the talented artist, Nadine Dupérré, plus an etymological dictionary of North American spider genus names.

The etymological dictionary is worth the full price of the book by itself, so for those with a serious scientific interest in spider identification, but who do not yet have this book in their library, I highly recommend obtaining one. For others, whose interest is more in the realm of curiosity, this book may — at first — be disappointing; it approaches the subject from a relatively technical, scientific perspective, and assumes at least a basic understanding of arachnid biology and the terminology associated with that understanding.

If you have this book, and find it difficult to read, don’t despair. Arachnology is an arcane science, rife with the peculiarities found in similarly arcane fields. In other words, you will need to build a foundation of understanding first. I recommend you do this by consulting a few good books on arachnid biology. For those who persist in getting a grip on those peculiarities, the rewards are many. SNAIM is devoted to the goal of helping those who want to identify the spiders in their midst, and it does a magnificent job, but it isn’t an introductory text for those whose knowledge of arachnology is rudimentary.

… and Other Sources of Information…

In SNAIM2, Chapter 56 describes the Salticidae. Thirteen pages of this book (surprisingly, two less than in SNAIM1) are devoted to salticids, with a dichotomous key to most of the genera, complete with drawings of the anatomical characters that figure prominently in the key. By comparison, Jan Beccaloni, in her excellent text on the Arachnids (2009, Univ. Calif. Press), devotes only one paragraph to that family. She does mention them in passing several more times and — surprisingly — even has a photo, on page 69, of one in the same genus as Katie’s spider (Bagheera, Peckham & Peckham 1896), though she doesn’t mention it by name.

Howell and Jenkins, in their informative book Spiders of the Eastern United States: A Photographic Guide (2004, Pearson Edu.) provide a full 40 pages of photographs and textual descriptions of a variety of salticids, but without a key, and say nothing about spiders in the genus Bagheera. That is understandable, of course, once one realizes that these spiders are only found in Texas (and never in the Eastern U.S.), but one can search far and wide in books on Texas spiders without finding this one portrayed. Baccaloni points out, in her terse paragraph on the jumpers, that the Salticidae comprises the most diverse family of spiders known. It is now also — in 2018 — the largest, both in terms the number of genera and species described.

At the time Katie’s photos arrived, according to Norm Platnick’s 25 June 2012 listing at the American Museum of Natural History, this family included 579 genera (exceeded only by the 589 genera of the Linyphiidae) and 5,468 species (exceeded by no other family, including the Linyphiidae, which had but 4,419 species); by contrast, as of 14 January 2018, the Salticidae had grown to 632 genera, and 6,046 species, surpassing all other spider families on both counts (the genera included in the Linyphiidae had also grown, to 604, and now includes 4552 species).

Lamenting How Little We Know…

The continuing research being conducted by arachnologists worldwide — scientists who are constantly collecting, analyzing, correlating, and publishing new data on spiders — is rapidly shedding much needed light on this field, yet much more still needs to be done. For those who think there are no more scientific frontiers, please think again. Our knowledge about the spiders around us is still woefully primitive. We’ve only touched the surface of this science. The spider that is the subject of this article is a good example of how little we know.

The paucity of information on the arachnids around us is nothing new. Indeed, within the general human population, there seems to be an organic lack of interest in getting to know the spiders well. This may be a result of the natural repulsion most people exhibit when they come near one of their eight-legged “friends.” That repulsion has dogged the science of arachnology throughout history, with predictable consequences. For centuries it was widely believed that no less than the great scientist and philosopher Aristotle, carelessly described the spider — in 300BCE — as having but six legs. His error, it has been said, went unchallenged until the 17th Century, when an enterprising naturalist decided to count their legs anew. That oft-repeated story is demonstrably wrong, as nowhere in Aristotle’s voluminous writings can be found proof that he actually made such a mistake. Still, the widely accepted supposition that he did is prima facie evidence of a fact that most would agree to be absolutely true: humans, as a rule, resist making close examinations of the spiders around them. In other words, willful ignorance of spider biology is, in the main, an acceptable trait.

Today a number of myths about spiders continue to make the rounds, even in academic circles. Here are just a few:

(1) Many spiders have fangs that are so weak and tiny that they cannot penetrate human skin [FACT: there may be a few, but practically all fanged, venomous spiders whose fangs can be pressed into human skin are capable of envenomating that skin; even the tiny fangs of our smallest spiders are usually able to penetrate human skin, provided the fangs can be positioned to do so; in many cases, the fangs cannot be properly positioned to inflict a bite, but in many cases they can, yet they don’t bite us because they do not consider us prey (and though a few spiders willfully bite us without provocation, most don’t bite humans unless under severe duress); in other cases, they actually succeed in inflicting a bite but we don’t realize we’ve been bitten — we think they didn’t bite us because their venom doesn’t cause any noticeable harm],

(2) All spiders are predominantly carnivores [FACT: gathering detailed information on the dietary habits of most spiders is extremely difficult to do, yet we know that at least one spider species is predominantly herbivorous; it is likely that other species will be found with that same propensity; we also know that many spiders will feed on plants if the opportunity arises, and a wide variety of spiders appear to owe their longevity in the wild to their willingness to consume lipids, proteins, and carbohydrates offered up by the plants they inhabit, particularly during periods when their usual insect prey is in short supply],

(3) All spiders are venomous [FACT: one entire family of spiders, the Uloboridae, with 18 genera and 262 species described, is comprised of spiders that have no venom glands at all], and

(4) The bite from a brown recluse spider typically results in a necrotic lesion [FACT: though tissue necrosis can occur, the most common consequence of a bite from a brown recluse spider is an erythematous, bruise-like, subcutaneous lesion that migrates gravitationally from the bite site and that, in the majority of cases, eventually resolves without any serious complications whatsoever].

Why do these and a host of other arachnological myths persist? That’s a good question, and sadly there don’t appear to be many good, easy answers. For the individual researcher, though, there is at least one sure-fire way to stop perpetuating arachnological misconceptions: take up the study of arachnology in earnest; collect as many books on the subject as you can and digest their contents with gusto; join the American Arachnological Society and the International Society of Arachnology; in short, immerse yourself intellectually in the field. Do this, and before long you will undoubtably become a genuine arachnophile. If you do this, I guarantee that your life will change for the better. I do not know anyone who has undergone that transformation who regrets having done so…

Now, on to Identifying Katie’s Spider…

In both editions of SNAIM, the chapter on the Salticidae was written by David B. Richman, G. B. Edwards, and Bruce Cutler. In SNAIM1, some 63 genera and 315 species of salticid jumping spiders were known at that time to be found in North America; in SNAIM2, Salticidae genera known to be found in North American remained the same, but the number of species increased by one, to 316. Following an erudite discussion on taxonomy, the authors list the characters unique to certain genera. This is important. It helps the investigator to cue in on major attributes, and Katie’s has two that we can see from just looking at her photo: (1) metallic, iridescent scales that coat its carapace and abdomen and color them with bronze, brown, and reddish hues, and (2) an awesome set of chelicerae. Thirteen unique characters are listed. The first is

1. Eyes in 4 rows, spiders translucent green.”

No… not a bit of green on Katie’s spider. Next,

2. Ant-like…

No, again, although the investigator would need to know that “ant-like” means the abdomen is constricted somewhere along its length. So we proceed, onward, with the same negative results, one character after the other… (you must be persistent in this work), eventually arriving at

9. Spiders with more or less extensive iridescent or metallic scales.

Sounds like Katie’s spider… and the genera with this attribute are listed as follows:

… (Agassa, listed in SNAIM1, is missing from the list in SNAIM2 because Agassa cyaneus, the only described species of the genus Agassa, was transferred to the genus Sassacus in 2008), Messua, Bagheera, Paradamoetas, Sassacus, Salticus peckhamae, most Paraphidippus, females of Eris, and females (and, though not mentioned in SNAIM1, but pointed out in SNAIM2, some males) of Tutelina.

Well, that’s a bunch, but one has to start somewhere, and — as that song from “The Sound of Music” put it — the beginning is a very good place… Notice, by the way, that although the keys to each spider family described in SNAIM appear, at first glance, to require a microscopic examination of the spider, that isn’t strictly so. Much can be learned simply by perusing the generic key and reading the descriptions for each genus. You do need to keep in mind that each genus may be represented in the key several times, and a generic name that is appended with the words “…, in part,” is only partially described at that particular couplet. A full description of that genus will have to include all the other partial descriptions, too.

On page 210 of SNAIM1, we learned that what was then known as the genus Agassa (and which was not appended by “ part,” so we could presume this to have been a complete description) comprised, in North America, only one species, A. cyanea (Hentz, 1846). Nadine Dupérré’s drawing, in the right-hand half of the page, depicted the spider’s habitus, or general appearance including the way the legs are arranged in the resting position. The description on the left explained that it resembled a flea beetle, and Nadine’s drawing showed how the abdomen and carapace are nearly the same size (as would be expected with a flea beetle), but says nothing about its chelicerae. Katie’s spider, however, has an abdomen twice to three times as long as the carapace.

At this point we were not absolutely certain of the spider’s gender, but we could at least say that one gender of this species is fitted with an unusual set of chelicerae. Such chelicerae would not pass unnoticed by anyone describing this genus. “So,” I told myself, “Katie’s spider can’t be Agassa…” The genus Messua is not mentioned in the generic key for several more pages, so I scan each page forward, successively, keeping a sharp eye out for it. On the way I passed by Sassacus, twice (both with “ part appended). I excluded it for reasons similar to those used to exclude Agassa, and proceeded on, finally happening upon Messua on page 216 (p.235 in SNAIM2). Here the text read:

Bright, iridescent green in color (like a larger, more slender Sassacus), males with long, divergent chelicerae (fig. 52.58)…

The genus name was not “…in part,” so this description was complete (in both SNAIM1 and SNAIM2), and though it contains a strong disqualifier (the green color) it also includes a tantalizing mention of long chelicerae. The long chelicerae of Messua, however, are divergent, and Nadine Dupérré’s drawing (fig. 52.58 in SNAIM1, 56.67 in SNAIM2), directly to the right of the text, depicts graphically what is meant by that: the long jaws of that spider are splayed outward, laterally, joined to the mouth at a 90-degree angle. It is obvious why this has to be the case, as — on that spider — each jaw is fitted with an equally long fang that folds into its prolateral surface (i.e. the anterior surface of the appendage, which in this case means the interior surfaces of the 90-degree angle described by the divergent jaws); if the chelicerae were held parallel to one another as they are with Katie’s spider, they’d be useless, incapable of articulation. But, no matter, the green color of Messua rules it out. Ah, but not so fast: the key arrives here from couplet 60, which has the following criteria:

Both sexes iridescent green or bronze in color or with an iridescent green sheen; males with elongated chelicerae…

Here, at couplet 61, directly below the description of Messua is another description, this time for the genus Bagheera, which reads as follows:

“Brown to bronze in color; male with long, parallel chelicerae (fig. 52.60 in SNAIM1, 56.69 in SNAIM2)…”

And Nadine Dupérré’s drawing, on the right, which portrays Katie’s spider perfectly, identifies her spider as Bagheera prosper.


Salticidae: Bagheera male; Katie Baker, Blanco, TX; 26 NOV 2012 --- frontodorsal carapace & chelicerae

Carapace & chelicerae

Salticidae: Bagheera male; Katie Baker, Blanco, TX; 26 NOV 2012 --- dorsofrontal habitus


Salticidae: Bagheera male; Katie Baker, Blanco, TX; 26 NOV 2012 --- frontodorsal habitus


Saltidicae: Bagheera male; Katie Baker, Blanco, TX; 26 NOV 2012 --- laterodorsoposterior habitus


Salticidae: Bagheera male; Katie Baker, Blanco, TX; 26 NOV 2012 --- laterodorsoposterior habitus


Salticidae: Bagheera male; Katie Baker, Blanco, TX; 26 NOV 2012 --- distal frontodorsal chelicerae


Salticidae: Bagheera male; Katie Baker, Blanco, TX; 26 NOV 2012 --- frontodorsal face & chelicerae

Face & chelicerae

Salticidae: Bagheera male; Katie Baker, Blanco, TX; 26 NOV 2012 --- laterodorsoposterior abdomen


Salticidae: Bagheera male; Katie Baker, Blanco, TX; 26 NOV 2012 --- laterodorsoposterior carapace


Salticidae: Bagheera male; Katie Baker, Blanco, TX; 26 NOV 2012 --- laterodorsoposterior chelicerae


Salticidae: Bagheera male; Katie Baker, Blanco, TX; 26 NOV 2012 --- laterodorsoposterior spinnerets


Salticidae: Bagheera male; Katie Baker, Blanco, TX; 26 NOV 2012 --- LLI tarsal claw & setae

LLI tarsal claw & setae





NOTE: All photos in this article, as with all images posted on BugsInTheNews, may be enlarged for more detailed examination, by clicking on each photo.

The more one learns about this spider, the more interesting it becomes. To begin with, it is tempting to believe it could be a vegetarian, because it is closely related to a spider found in Mexico and Guatemala that is predominately herbivorous. The vast majority of spiders worldwide are carnivorous. In fact, most were thought for many years to almost never consume vegetable matter as even a small part of their diet. I added the caveat, “could be,” in the first publication of this article because few studies have been made of the behavior and diet of Bagheera prosper (Peckham & Peckham, 1901), whose native range is the southern half of Texas and northern Mexico.

On the other hand, its close relative — Bagheera kiplingi (Peckham & Peckham, 1896) — which has a similar appearance to B. prosper but whose native range is southern Mexico and Guatemala, has been studied extensively. Its diet has been determined to consist primarily of the lipid-and-protein-rich Beltian bodies found as nubs at tips of the leaves of certain plants armed with domatia. Certain species of formicine ants in the genus Pseudomyrmex (P. spinicola and P. ferruginea in particular) are also fond of Beltian bodies, and have developed a symbiotic relationship with the trees that produce them. The trees provide the ants with both food and shelter (they chew off the tips of their domatia — which are large, hollow, stipular thorns — and take up residence inside the thorns’ voids), while the ants protect the trees from attack by other insects and trim encroaching vegetation. B. kiplingi’s relationship with these trees, on the other hand, appears to be one-sided, benefiting the spider without contributing anything in return.

B. kiplingi’s favorite tree, Vachellia collinsii, is mostly found in southern Central America.

We justify considering the possibility that B. prosper might be, at the very least, a partial vegetarian, because (1) it is so similar in anatomy to B. kiplingi, and (2) so little has been published about B. prosper‘s diet. On the other hand, though, a recent revision of the genus Bagheera by Ruizi and Edwards states that the predatory behavior of B. prosper is “standard,”  i.e., it follows that of other jumping spiders, which is predominantly carnivorous. Further, the range of B. prosper is not restricted, as in the case of B. kiplingi, to regions where the dominant herbaceous plants on which the latter thrives (e.g., Vachellia collinsii) are found, and records show that this species is regularly collected from trees and shrubs that are not known to provide herbaceous sources of food that they are easily able to exploit. These facts argue against the adoption of herbivory by B. prosper, as tantalizing as that idea may be. If so, the adoption of herbivory by B. kiplingi may have had less to do with its anatomy than with a chance, fortuitous discovery, by that species, that the Beltian bodies on some of the plants it foraged were edible and nutritious.

So much to learn. So little time…


  • Kingdom Animalia (an-uh-MAYHL-yuh) — first described in 1758 by the Swedish taxonomist Carolus Linnaeus (1707 – 1778), using the Latin word animal = “a living being,” from the Latin word anima = “vital breath”, to refer to multicellular, eukaryotic organisms whose body plans become fixed during development, some of which undergo additional processes of metamorphosis later in their lives; most of which are motile, and thus exhibit spontaneous and independent movements; and all of whom are heterotrophs that feed by ingesting other organisms or their products;
  • Phylum Arthropoda (ahr-THROPP-uh-duh) first described in 1829 by the French zoologist Pierre André Latreille [November 20, 1762 – February 6, 1833], using the two Greek roots αρθρον (AR-thron) = jointed + ποδ (pawd) = foot, in an obvious reference to animals with jointed feet, but in the more narrow context of the invertebrates, which have segmented bodies as well as jointed appendages;
  • Subphylum Chelicerata (kuh-liss-uh-RAY-tuh) — first described in 1901 by the German zoologist Richard Heymons [1867 – 1943] using the Greek noun χηλη (KEY-lay) = a claw, talon, or hoof + the Greek noun κερας (Ser-as) = an animal’s horn + the Latin suffix ata — which by convention is suffixed to the names of animal subdivisions — to refer to animals that have specialized appendages before the mouth that they use in feeding, capturing and securing prey and that — in the case of spiders — are further equipped to inject venom and digestive agents into their prey;
  • Class Arachnida (uh-RAKH-nih-duh) first described in 1812 by the French naturalist and zoologist Jean Léopold Nicolas Frédéric Cuvier [August 23, 1769 – May 13, 1832], usually referred to as Georges Cuvier, using the Greek noun αραχης (uh-RAH-kes) = a spider, in reference to all eight-legged arthropods, including such disparate animals as ticks, mites, scorpions, harvestmen, solpugids, and spiders;
  • Order Araneae (uh-RAY-neh-ee) — first described in 1757 by the Swedish entomologist and arachnologist Carl Alexander Clerck [1709 – 22 July 1765], who used the Latin word aranea = a spider or a spider’s web, to refer to eight legged arthropods that spin webs;
  • Suborder Opisthothelae (oh-PIS-thoh-THEE-lee) — first described in 1990 by the American arachnologists Richard C. Brusca and Gary J. Brusca, who used the Greek words οπισθεν (oh-PIS-thehn) = behind, at the back, yet to come + θηλη (THEE-lee) = nipple or teat, to distinguish this grouping of spiders from the more primitive spiders in the suborder Mesothelae, in that certain characters (e.g., tergite plates, ganglia in the abdomen, and — in particular, inasmuch as the suborder name is a direct reference thereto — median-positioned spinnerets) of the latter are absent in the former; thus spiders in this suborder have spinnerets positioned at the hindmost portion of the abdomen;
  • Infraorder Araneomorphae (uh-RAY-nee-oh-MOHR-fee) — distinguished from the mygalomorphae by having opposing fangs that open and close perpendicular to the spider body’s longitudinal axis, in a pinching action, whereas, in the mygalomorphae (e.g., tarantulas and trapdoor spiders), which have fangs that open and close more nearly in alignment with the spider body’s longitudinal axis.
  • Series Entelegynae (inn-TELL-uh-jiy-nee) — araneomorph spiders which, unlike the Haplogynae, have hardened, i.e., sclerotized, female genitalia. Foelix (2011) points out that “entelegyne spiders have more complex reproductive organs (with an epigyne and separate fertilization ducts in the female)…” and that “Male entelegyne genitalia are very diverse…“;
  • Superfamily Salticoidea (saul-tuh-KOY-dee-uh) — a superfamily embracing all the jumping spiders, and comprised of a single family (the Salticidae); according to Norman Platnick’s World Spider Catalog version 13.0, this family presently includes 589 recognized genera and about 5,468 described species, or about 13% of all spider species known; jumping spiders possess excellent vision, which aids in courting mates, hunting prey, and navigating within their environments; these spiders move about with stealth and deliberation, but when threatened or on finding prey are able to perform agile leaps or jumps; they possess a particularly well-developed bimodal respiratory system similar to that of the crab spiders in the Thomisidae family, with one pair of book lungs, complemented by an extensive system of highly-branched tracheal tubes that pervade the prosoma and the extremities (Foelix, 2011); the jumping spiders have a relatively unique eye pattern that appears as four pairs of eyes with extremely large anterior median eyes (AME);
  • Family Salticidae (saul-TISS-uh-dee) — first described in 1842 by the English naturalist John Blackwall (1790-1881), using the Latin infinitive saltare = to leap or dance + the Greek patronymic suffix -ιδες (EE-des) used by convention in zoological nomenclature to indicate a family name, in reference to spiders that jump;
    • Subfamily Aelurillinae — 9 genera of mostly Old World jumping spiders, with one species (Phlegra hentzi Marx, 1890) that is found in the U.S. and Canada.
    • Subfamily Agoriinae (Simon, 1901) — a single genus (Agorius Thorell 1877) of ant mimic jumping spiders, comprised of 7 described and several yet-to-be-described species of jumping spiders found in Sumatra, Borneo, the Philippines, Singapore, New Guinea, New Britain, Java, Lombok, Sulawesi, and Malaysia; both sexes 6-8 mm in length and similar in appearance to the Myrmarachninae, but lacking the large forward-pointing chelicerae typical of the latter, and rather than inhabiting foliage aloft, predominantly living in the leaf litter of the rain forest floor;
    • Subfamily Amycinae — 6 genera of jumping spiders widely distributed in Central and South America;
    • Subfamily Ballinae — a little-known grouping of salticids whose males possess a specially-spiralled embolus; some are beetle-like or pseudoscorpion-like bark dwellers;
    • Subfamily Dendryphantinae (Petrunkevitch, 1928) — mostly New World jumping spiders whose females typically show paired abdominal spots and s-shaped epigynal atria, and whose males often possess enlarged chelicerae;
    • Subfamily Euophryinae (Simon, 1901) — 115 genera of widely distributed (worldwide) jumping spiders;
    • Subfamily Hasariinae — 3 genera of poorly known jumping spiders;
    • Subfamily Heliophaninae (Petrunkevitch, 1928) — mostly Old World subfamily with  distinctive leg-carapace stridulatory organ; only Marchena minuta and the neotropical bark-dwellers Helvetia and Yepoella are found in the New World; two characters distinctive to this subfamily are: 1. a stridulatory organ of seta-bearing tubercles on the femur of leg I with corresponding corrugations on the lateral carapace, and 2. a projection on the tegulum covering the embolus;
    • Subfamily Hisponinae (Simon, 1886) — common in Madagascar, less so elsewhere in Africa and Asia; distinguished by constrictions near the eyes, which are small; similar to spartaeine-like salticids, often found in  Baltic amber;
    • Subfamily Lyssomaninae (Hentz, 1884) — eight described genera that are not a part of the Salticoida, to which over 90% of all salticid species belong;
    • Subfamily Marpissinae — a little known subfamily of  jumping spiders whose placement is in dispute;
    • Subfamily Myrmarachninae — a well-established subfamily whose members mimic the size, shape and behavior of ants; some live with ants and prey on other arthropods, others prey on ants; mostly found in Australia and South East Asia;
    • Subfamily Pelleninae — mostly ground-dwelling salticids with the holarctic genus Pellenes, the Old World genus Neaetha, and a New World genus Habronattus; Habronattus well known for elaborate and diverse ornaments, and for the courtship rituals performed by males;
    • Subfamily Plexippinae — mostly Old World species distinguished by having the embolus immovably fixed to the tegulum; includes the familiar genera Plexippus, Evarcha, Hyllus, and Thyene; distinguished by 1. male endite serrula with the lateralmost teeth curled and projecting; 2. a small projection, or bump, on the tegulum near the base of the embolus, just counterclockwise of the embolus that points clockwise on the left palp; the bump on Heliophanine tegula is positioned differently; 3. tufts of setae near the eyes, similar to those of Phidippus but below the small eyes, between the PME and ALE; in the Phidippus these occur below the PME, between the PME and PLE;
    • Subfamily Salticinae — a catch-all subfamily without a set of well-defined distinctions separating it from the other subfamilies;
    • Subfamily Spartaeinae (Wanless, 1984) — includes the Boetheae, Cocaleae, Lineae, Codeteae and Cyrbeae, as defined by Eugène Simon; palaeotropical in distribution, exceptionally diverse in the Malaysian and Indonesian archipelagos; similar to the lyssomaninae, in lacking many derived features of the Salticoida; although the Spartaeinae usually have large posterior median eyes, they are reduced in the genera Cyrba, Gelotia and Wanlessia;
    • Subfamily Synagelinae — antlike; embolus articulated against a free tegulum; waves the second pair of legs like antennae; occur only in the New World, except for Leptorchestes;
    • Subfamily Synemosyninae — ant-like; waves the first legs like antennae; embolus fixed to the tegulum; in many cases where the embolus is long, it curls around the top of the cymbium;
  • Subfamily Dendryphantinae (dehn-dree-FAN-tuh-nee)first described in 1928 by the Russian-born entomologist Alexander Ivanovitch Petrunkevitch (born in Kiev in 1874-died in New Haven, Connecticut in 1964) — who taught at Yale University from 1910 to 1944 — using the Latin noun dens = tooth or prong + the Greek  noun δρεπανη (DREE-fann) = a sickle or scythe, to refer to a subfamily of New World jumping spiders whose males often have enlarged chelicerae; some 54 New World genera are included in this taxonomical grouping;
  • Genus Bagheera (BOGG-ee-rah) — first described in 1896 by the early American naturalists and teachers George Williams Peckham (1845 – 1914) and his colleague, who later became his wife, Elizabeth Maria Gifford Peckham (1854 – 1940), using the name Rudyard Kipling coined for the black-toned leopard in his widely loved and well-read Jungle Book;
  • Species prosper (PROSS-purr) — first described in 1901 by Peckham & Peckham (see above), from a beloved passage in Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book known as The Law of the Jungle: “Now this is the Law of the Jungle — as old and as true as the sky; And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die. As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk the Law runneth forward and back — For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.”
  • Scientific name Bagheera prosper (Peckham & Peckham, 1901)

References (for a list of all my references to scientific literature, including children’s books, click here):

  • Barnes, Robert D. 1958. North American Jumping Spiders of the Subfamily Marpissinae (Araneae, Salticidae). American Museum Novitates 1867.
  • Beccaloni, Jan. 2009. Arachnids. Univ. Calif. Press.
  • Comstock, John Henry. 1912. The spider book: a manual for the study of the spiders and their near relatives. University of Michigan.
  • Emerton, James H. 1902. The Common Spiders of the United States. Kindle, hardcopy, and paperback editions.
  • Foelix, Ranier F. 2011. Biology of Spiders, Third Ed. Oxford Univ. Press.
  • Gertsch, Willis J., 1979. American spiders. Von Nostrand Reinhold Company.
  • Herberstein, Marie Elisabeth (Ed.). 2011. Spider Behaviour: Flexibility and Versatilility. Cambridge University Press.
  • Howell, W. M., and R. L. Jenkins. 2004. Spiders of the Eastern United States: A Photographic Guide. Pearson Edu.
  • Jackman, John A. 1999. A Field Guide to Spiders & Scorpions of Texas (Gulf Publishing Field Guide Series). Gulf Press.
  • Kaston, B. J. 1978. How to know the spiders (The Pictured key nature series). WCB McGraw Hill.
  • Levi, Herbert W., and Lorna Levi. 1987. Spiders and Their Kin (Golden Guide). Golden Press, New York.
  • Nyffeler, Martin, et al. 2016. REVIEW: Plant-eating Spiders. Journal of Arachnology 44:15-27.
  • Preston-Mafham, Rod. 1996. The Book of Spiders and Scorpions. Barnes & Noble.
  • Ruizi, Gustavo R. S., and G. B. Edwards 2013. Revision of Bagheera (Araneae: Salticidae: Dendryphantinae). The Journal of Arachnology 41:18–24
  • Ubick, et al. (Editors) 2005. Spiders of North America: An Identification Manual, First Edition. American Arachnological Society.
  • Ubick, et al. (Editors) 2017. Spiders of North America: An identification Manual, Second Edition. American Arachnological Society

E-mail Jerry at You may also register, log in, and leave a detailed comment in the space provided below.

%d bloggers like this: