Salticids along the Salkantay Trail

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A jumping spider (Frigga spp.) from day 3 of our hike

I really like spiders. They’re interesting animals, from their web-building to their role in eating what we humans generally consider pests (like mosquitoes). They exist nearly everywhere in the world, and there are tons of species, so there’s always something new to learn. But a lot of people don’t like spiders, and I understand that. But hear me out below.

Jumping spiders (salticids) are the adorable stars of the spider world. And while the words “jumping” and “spider” together might horrify you, it’s not as scary as you might think. Jumping spiders are small, nonaggressive, and none of them (as far as I know) are venomous enough to seriously hurt you. You can play with them, as they’re highly sensitive to motion and will react to you putting a finger (or stick, or leaf) near them by jumping on it or jumping away. And their huge eyes make them really cute. Seriously, they’re so cute that I’ve already helped one person conquer their fear of spiders through observing them. So if you’re currently not keen on spiders, jumping spiders might be your chance to see spiders in a new light.

And if you’re already an enthusiast of Salticidae, welcome! Hope you like the pictures, and if you’ve got any identification information please pass it along here or on Project Noah (a website dedicated to cataloging images of all life on Earth).

Lastly, the Swedish word for jumping spider is…’hoppspindlar’. Yes, it is. No, I’m not making this up.

Before the Salkantay Pass

We didn’t encounter many jumping spiders on this side of the pass, although that might be the result of us hiking as quickly as possible and not taking many breaks. We did see this little guy at Parador Hornada Pata. He was stubborn and retreated before we could take any good photos:

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After the Salkantay Pass

Our first jumping spider on the north side of the Salkantay Pass showed up on the trail after Wayramachay, probably at around 2,800 feet. This little lady was shy and trying to avoid the sun, so getting a good picture is hard:

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Hiding out from the sun
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Looking right at us

We saw nearly half a dozen jumping spiders in the span of an hour at Winaypocco, in the valley of river Santa Teresa/Salkantay. All of these seem to be in the genus Frigga, which live throughout South America (and a bit of Central America). We managed to get good pictures of three of them:

Frigga spp. #1

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This spider is looking up at my finger
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The spider checks out a tiny mite (yellow smudge) that crawls by next to her
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Just before hopping off into the underbrush

Frigga spp. #2

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Nice lunch you got there, spider-friend.

Frigga spp. #3

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I got this one to jump onto a leaf for easier photography
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He didn’t have much patience, though, and quickly hopped off into the grass
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What he looks like, mid jump
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These shots are just four of about thirty for this particular spider. They’re sprightly and can be hard to photograph.

These are the references I used to ID the above species:

Reference 1

Reference 2

Wikipedia page (for where they normally live)

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