why do jumping spiders wave

Why do Jumping Spiders Wave?

Have you ever been curious about the behavior of jumping spiders? More specifically, when they wave. A waving jumping spider is not an uncommon sight and many consider it cute. Like any other spider behavior, there is an explanation behind the action. In this article, we explore the answer to the question: why do jumping spiders wave?

why do jumping spiders wave

What are the Characteristics of a Jumping Spider?

Jumping spiders stand out among arachnids due to their unique features. They have four pairs of eyes, including large anterior median eyes that give them a 360-degree field of vision for sharp sight during hunting and courtship displays. What’s interesting is that their impressive jumping abilities are not powered by strong leg muscles but by rapid changes in hemolymph pressure. This allows them to make remarkable leaps, covering distances several times their body length.

Do Jumping Spiders Understand Waving?

Spiders rely on instincts, not advanced intelligence, for behaviors like web building and hunting because of their small brains. Although they show complex actions, it is not driven by high intelligence. Spiders don’t engage in social signaling or purposeful interactions with other species, and their brains make it unlikely for them to consciously understand gestures like waving. Therefore, jumping spiders understanding the concept of human waving is highly unlikely.

The Reasons Jumping Spiders Wave

why do jumping spiders wave

There are many reasons that a jumping spider waves. Some of these reasons are as follows:

Vibration Detection through Leg Motions

Spiders use sensitive leg hairs to detect vibrations, aiding in sensing prey movements. Leg waving helps spiders gather environmental information such as vibrations and air currents, particularly from large approaching objects like humans.

Defensive Leg Waving

Spiders employ “deimatic displays” as a defense mechanism, using exaggerated leg movements to startle and intimidate potential threats. When spiders wave their legs at humans, it may be a defensive posture to confuse or scare away perceived threats.

Preparation for Attack

Waving the first set of legs primes spiders for potential defensive actions. By raising and extending their front legs (which contain fangs and venom), spiders assess threats and prepare for a potential defensive strike or retreat.

Aggressive Display

Leg waving in spiders serves dual roles during courtship and mating rituals, as well as in aggressive encounters over food, territory, or mates. When aimed at humans, it may indicate aggression and an intent to ward off perceived threats.

Swatting Misinterpretation

Spiders may mistake rapid hand motions, such as swatting, for prey. In response, they wave their legs in an attempt to catch the perceived “prey,” showcasing a misinterpretation of human actions.

Can Jumping Spiders Intentionally Wave to Humans?

It’s uncommon for spiders to intentionally wave at humans, but jumping spiders are one of the few species that may exhibit such behavior. The species, with excellent vision, can track human movements, and captive spiders can become accustomed to their owners.

While repeated exposure might lead spiders to associate waving with non-threatening gestures, these instances are isolated and don’t represent typical spider behavior. Jumping spiders’ limited learning and social skills make intentional communication with humans challenging, emphasizing that leg waving toward humans is likely instinctual rather than purposeful interaction.


The simple answer to the question of why jumping spiders wave boils down to communication. While some jumping spiders show intelligence and may copy human waving, it may be an instinctive act rather than actual understanding. Generally, jumping spiders waving is a fascinating phenomenon to witness, but it is one of many behaviors that make the species stand out from the rest. If you see another type of spider waving, you might learn something new about them.

Jumping Spider FAQs

Why do jumping spiders jump at you?

Jumping spiders are generally curious hunters and do not intentionally jump on human faces. If startled or threatened, they may jump to escape. To avoid unintentional encounters, it’s recommended to observe them from a safe distance.

What does a jumping spider movement mean?

Male jumping spiders in the Salticidae family display various signals during courtship. These include shaking mouthparts, bobbing abdomens, waving legs, side-to-side dancing, and flashing bright colors to attract females.

What does it mean when a jumping spider tilts its head?

Jumping spiders can turn their heads while walking, utilizing excellent eyesight. Head movements help them observe surroundings, focus on specific targets, or objects of interest.

Is it OK to hold a Jumping Spider?

Yes, it is generally safe to hold a jumping spider with gentle care. They are not aggressive towards humans and are more likely to flee than attack. Handle them respectfully, avoiding sudden movements that could startle them. Wash hands before and after handling for mutual safety.

Can jumping spiders hear you?

Despite lacking ears or eardrums, jumping spiders can hear sounds using their remarkable sensory abilities. While you might not notice them in your living room, they have exceptional eyesight and surprising auditory capabilities.

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