Spider or Ninja? Phidippus johnsoni red-backed jumping spider

Ever met a spider that looks like it’s wearing a red racing stripe? No, it’s not the latest fashion trend in the arachnid world. Say hello to Phidippus Johnsoni Red-Backed Jumping Spider! Forget what you think you know about spiders—this one’s a character.

What is Phidippus Johnsoni?

What is Phidippus Johnsoni?

So, let’s get the basics out of the way. Phidippus Johnsoni belongs to the family of jumping spiders, scientifically known as Salticidae. As for its name, the ‘Phidippus‘ part is all about its genus, while ‘Johnsoni’ honors some fella named Johnson who probably had the luck (or misfortune) of being among the first to study it.

What does it look like?

Imagine a spider dressed up for Halloween! It’s mostly black, with a dash of red or orange on its abdomen. Basically, it’s got flair.

Where’s home?

These critters like the Western U.S., especially places like California and Oregon. They love hanging out in grassy fields, gardens, and even the occasional home. So, don’t be too surprised if you bump into one while gardening.

A Spider with a Personality!

Are they social?

Well, they’re no party animals, but they’re not exactly shy either. Mostly, they keep to themselves, which, let’s be honest, is pretty relatable.

How do they hunt?

Oh boy, here comes the fun part. These guys are built for action. Unlike other spiders who just sit around in their webs all day, the Phidippus Johnsoni takes a more proactive approach. They stalk their prey, like a cat, and then—boom!—they jump to catch it. You could say they’re the ninjas of the spider world.

What makes them unique?

Their vision is pretty rad for a spider. They can see a wider range of colors than most other spiders and have excellent depth perception. It’s like they’ve got built-in binoculars!

The Red-Backed Jumper’s Menu

What’s for dinner?

Dinner for Phidippus Johnsoni Spiders

They love a good insect smorgasbord—flies, crickets, you name it. If it’s smaller than them and moves, it’s on the menu.

Jumping to catch dinner

These spiders are famous for their jumping skills. We’re talking leaps that are several times their body length. If they were in the Olympics, they’d bring home the gold for sure.

Predators: Watch your back!

Life’s not all fun and games; they’ve got predators to worry about too. Birds and bigger spiders wouldn’t mind making a meal out of them.

Friend or Foe?

Are they dangerous?

Phidippus Johnsoni Spiders Friends or Foe of Humans

The short answer? Nah. Their venom is pretty mild, especially for humans. It’s not like they’re running around looking for people to bite.

Why they’re cool for the ecosystem

These spiders are the unsung heroes of pest control. They keep the population of other bugs in check, which is great news for your garden.

Fun Facts and Myths

Common myths debunked

First off, they’re not out to get you. Some people think all spiders are poisonous and aggressive, but these little guys would rather avoid you than pick a fight.

Fun Facts

Did you know that they can spin silk but they rarely use it for making webs? They mostly use it for safety lines while jumping. Think of it as their version of a bungee cord.

How to Spot One in the Wild

Be a spider detective

If you’re keen to spot one, check out sunny, open areas. These spiders love the sunshine. And keep your eyes peeled—they’re small but their vibrant colors make them easier to spot.

Gear up!

You might want to bring along a camera with a good macro lens. These spiders are quite photogenic and you can capture some spectacular details.


So, there you have it. The Phidippus Johnsoni might be a tiny creature, but it’s a fascinating one. Whether you’re an arachnophile or someone who usually screams at the sight of a spider, you’ve got to admit—they’re pretty darn cool. Next time you see that red racing stripe, maybe offer a nod of respect instead of a shoe.


Q: Do Phidippus Johnsoni spiders bite?

Answer: Okay, let’s tackle this one head-on. Technically, yes, they can bite, but it’s super rare. And even if they do give you a little nibble, it’s usually harmless. So, no need to go running for the hills if you spot one.

Q: What do they eat?

Answer: Ah, the eternal question of what’s for dinner! These little guys are bug connoisseurs—they love munching on flies, crickets, and other smaller bugs. Think of them as your personal pest control squad.

Q: Are they poisonous?

 Answer: Nope! They do have venom to immobilize their prey, but it’s not harmful to humans. So if you’re not a fly or a cricket, you’re pretty much in the clear.

Q: Can they really jump? How high?

Answer: Oh, you betcha! These little acrobats can jump several times their body length. They’re like the Michael Jordan of the Spider world. However, they usually don’t go higher than a few inches; they’re more about that horizontal action.

Q: Where can I find them?

Answer: Ready for a spider scavenger hunt? You can typically find them in the Western United States, particularly in places like California and Oregon. Keep your eyes peeled in grassy or sunny areas.

Q: Do they make webs?

Answer: Not really, no. They can spin silk, but they’re not the web-slinging types. They prefer to use their silk as a safety line while jumping, kind of like a teeny tiny bungee cord.

Q: How big do they get?

Answer: They’re not gonna win any giant spider contests, that’s for sure. Most of them are around half an inch or so. Just big enough to spot, but not so big you’d want to move to another state.

Q: Do they live alone or in groups?

Answer: They’re lone rangers, for the most part. You won’t find them hosting spider dinner parties or anything. They like their space, just like some of us do.

Q: What should I do if I find one in my house?

Answer: First off, don’t freak out. They’re more scared of you than you are of them. If you can, gently scoop it up with a piece of paper and escort it outside. Or, you know, let it chill and take care of any pesky flies in your home.

Q: Are they good for gardens?

Answer: Absolutely! They’ll snack on other bugs that might be harming your plants. Think of them as little, eight-legged garden guardians.

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