The life cycle of jumping spiders is generally the same as any other species of spider. It generally consists of three specific stages; egg sac, spiderlings, and finally, adulthood. Although these life stages can slightly differ from species to species of spider, both in and out of the Salticidae family, they do remain quite similar.
The egg sac is generally the first stage in the life cycle of a jumping spider. During this time, the female spider will deposit her eggs into the silk web she created or a protected spot. The eggs will then incubate and hatch, releasing the baby jumping spiders known as spiderlings.
After hatching, the spider is considered to be a spiderling. At this stage, the spiders are very small and can still depend on their mother. They will undergo several molts – shedding off the exoskeletons, as all spiders do – and eventually grow into adults.
The final stage in the life cycle of jumping spiders is adulthood. At this stage, the spider is typically fully grown and is able to care for itself. It will continue to grow and molt until it reaches its final adult form.
But this article shall look into these three stages, and the lifespan of jumping spiders, in more detail.
Different species of spiders have varying lifespans, with some living less than a year and others making it to their 20s in captivity. For jumping spiders, however, they have a relatively short lifespan in comparison to other spiders.
The average lifespan of a jumping spider is around 6 to 12 months in the wild, though they can live up to 18 months in captivity. For example, most bold jumping spiders can live between one to two years. Some lucky keepers have found their pet jumping spiders have even managed to live up to 3 years!
The egg sac is the first stage in the life cycle of a jumping spider. During this time, the gravid – or pregnant- female spider will lay eggs into a web she has created. This can occur 1 day to 2 weeks after mating successfully. She will then stand guard and watch over her sac throughout the hatching process.
A jumping spider’s egg sac is generally the size of a grape (roughly 2.5 cm in diameter), and it can take up to two weeks for the eggs to hatch. It might contain up to 300 eggs, and they will be a creamy yellow color. Once they have hatched, which can happen 7 to 10 days after being laid, the spiderlings will remain near their mother for the first few weeks of their life, until they are able to fend for themselves.
If bred as pets, the spiderlings should be separated when they show signs of dispersing; they might begin to treat each other as prey otherwise.
This type of behavior is not uncommon in the spider world, although there are some differences depending on the spider species. For example, female wolf spiders will bite open the sac when the babies are ready to hatch, while jumping spider eggs will hatch in the sac and the babies will remain there for their first molt or so before dispersing.
One question that often arises is whether a sac is fertile or infertile. Unfortunately, there’s no sure-fire answer, as it can depend on the individual spider and the conditions in which it was deposited.
Generally speaking, an infertile egg sac will be smaller and more round in shape than a fertile one. It might also be lighter in color and will not have a sticky texture.
Fertile egg sacs, on the other hand, will be darker in color and will be covered in a sticky substance to keep the eggs inside. They will also be larger in size.
There is no definitive answer to this question, as it can depend on the individual spider. Some spiders will eat the infertile sac, while other spiders will simply discard it.
Jumping spider babies – also referred to as spiderlings or slings – are the second stage in the life cycle of a jumping spider. At this stage of life, the spiders are very delicate and might continue to be dependent on their mother.
To grow and become larger, spiders shed their exoskeleton. This process is called molting. Jumping spider molting begins when they are spiderlings and will continue until their final molt from sub adult to mature. A jumping spider can molt five to eight times during its lifetime. During a molt, spiders can even grow back their legs if they had previously lost a limb or two.
Most species of jumping spider, including the bold and regal jumping spider species, usually have gray or black bodies. They will be very active and will start to spin their own silk webs. The spiderling stage generally lasts around two to four weeks before they have molted into subadults.
They can hunt more readily at this stage, although it is safer that they feed on small insects, like flightless fruit flies. The number of insects they consume can also determine how quickly they molt as they will be quicker to outgrow their exoskeletons.
At this stage of their lives, jumping spiders are typically fully grown and are able to care for themselves. They will continue to grow and molt until they reach their final form. Jumping spiders generally reach maturity within six to eight months after hatching.
Adult jumping spiders are generally around 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch in size, although they are able to take down much larger prey, and can be a variety of colors; some are darker while others take on a lighter shade with orange markings. Their coloring can change throughout their lifespan, specifically their chelicerae – blue, green, and pink are just some of the colors that can form.
Once jumping spiders reach adulthood, they will typically live for six to 12 months. This is also the stage when they are sexually mature and ready to mate. Male jumping spiders tend to reach maturity before females, but they also tend to be smaller.
It is during maturity that you can tell male jumping spiders apart from female spiders more easily; there are specific traits, like the pedipalps and epigyne, that can help to differentiate between the males and females.
Unfortunately, jumping spiders have relatively short lifespans. Most spiders will die of old age between the ages of one and two years, and nothing can be done to prevent this. Senior jumping spiders will become less active before death, sometimes refusing to eat and experiencing difficulty in climbing. When jumping spiders die, their bodies will curl up, a position known as the “spider death curl.”
In some cases, jumping spiders will die during a problematic molt or due to Dyskinetic Syndrome (DKS).