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By Elizabeth Bailey

Hopping into a landscape near you – Redback jumping spiders, known to science as Phiddippus johnsoni, and also known as Johnson Jumpers, are one of the most often encountered jumping spiders in North America. As they are called redback jumping spiders, they can be confused with the redback spider, Latrodectus hasselti, a native to Australia. The redback spider is part of the widow family, and a bite from these spiders is considered highly dangerous to humans. Phiddippus johnsoni, however, are not dangerous to humans. Many people believe the red back is a warning sign, but definitely not for this tiny arachnid.

Redback jumping spiders like to stay in their silky nests, which are built in undisturbed areas. As they hunt by site, they are not active at night and will retreat to their nests as darkness approaches. They prey on other insects that are normally half their size. Some of their favorite snacks include caterpillars, moths, and flies.

How can you identify these spiders? They are easy to find with their bright red back, even though they are small. They only grow to about be about half an inch in length or approximately 1 centimeter. When they reach maturity, females are slightly larger than males. Males have a fully red back, while females have a black strip down their backs. Keep your eye out for small flashes of ruby in grass to check out these spiders.

Fact or Fiction? The Black-and-Yellow Argiope spider is active at night?

Issue #38 / All About Catalina's Spiders


Catalina’s Crabby Invertebrate
Jump Around, Jump Around
Fact or Fiction: Black/Yellow Argiope - nocturnal?
Did You Know…Summer naturalists weave web of knowledge

Photo courtesy of the Catalina Island Conservancy

Redback jumping spiders are harmless to humans, despite their resemblance to some dangerous arachnids.

Missed recent issues?
Issue #1 / All About Bison

Issue #2 / All About Birds

Issue #3 / All About Plants
Issue #4 / All About Eagles
Issue #5 / All About Ravens & Crows
Issue #6 / All About Natives & Invasives  
Issue #7 / All About Rain
Issue #8 / All About Bison Roundup
Issue #9 / All About Foxes
Issue #10 / All About Weeds
Issue #11 / All About Eagle Hatchlings
Issue #12 / All About Snakes
Issue #13 / All About Diurnal Raptors
Issue #14 / All About Diurnal Raptors II
Issue #15 / All About Giants & Dwarves
Issue #16 / All About Fire Ecology
Issue #17 / All About Mule Deer
Issue #18 / All About Feral Cats
Issue #19 / All About Acorn Woodpeckers
Issue #20 / All About Tachi the Fox
Issue #21 / All About Observing Nature
Issue #22 / All About Bald Eagle Update
Issue #23 / All About Invasive Plants
Issue #24 / All About Poisonous Plants
Issue #25 / All About the Value of Nature
Issue #26 / All About Edible Invasives
Issue #27 / All About Plants in Summer
Issue #28 / All About Marine Ecosystems
Issue #29 / All About Dominant Rocks
Issue #30 / All About Catalina’s Tongva
Issue #31 / All About Wildlife Fast Facts
Issue #32 / All About Wrigley Memorial
Issue #33 / All About Endemic Species
Issue #34 / All About Conservancy Volunteers
Issue #35 / All About Catalina’s Wildflowers

Issue #36 / All About Catalina’s Migratory Birds
Issue #37 / All About Reptiles & Amphibians



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