Zebra spider

( Latin: Salticus scenicus)

Some spiders do not spin a web but hunt their prey actively. These include the hunting spiders, and the zebra spider which is quite a small representative of this group can often be seen on the walls of a house, especially if the sun is shining. The spider’s behaviour changes when a fly or other small insect lands nearby. It crouches down, turns the large, square front part of its body (the cephalothorax) with the four large and four small eyes towards the fly and starts to creep up like a cat. It does this so slowly that it may be difficult to detect that it is actually moving. When it is about a couple of centimetres away the spider makes a lightning jump and lands on the prey which it holds firmly with its powerful front legs and quickly kills with the poison-fangs or chelicerae. It is astonishingly skilful at outwitting the prey, but of course it sometimes misses its jump. Whatever happens it always lands again on the wall, which may seem strange, but there is quite a simple explanation. Like all spiders this species spins a safety line which it fastens to the substrate at regular intervals, and before it jumps it always takes care, like any other skilled mountaineer, that its line is properly attached.