I know it’s a terrible picture, but I needed to have something to illustrate the story below.
I was sitting at the computer working on some pictures when I saw this rather small spider crawling across the keyboard. It was a little creepy as it had large eyes and whenever I moved it would re-orient itself so that it was looking at me.
I didn’t have much hope for a picture, but I grabbed a nearby camera and pointed it in the direction of the spider. As I was looking through the viewfinder I noticed that the spider was getting larger and larger. It had jumped across the distance between the computer keyboard and my camera – maybe about six inches or so.
This really threw off my concentration and any slim hope of getting a decent picture went out the window. It should be said that I don’t suffer from Arachnophobia (extreme or irrational fear of spiders). Quite the contrary. Since I was a child I’ve always liked spiders. I find them fascinating creatures and am in awe of their ability to build their webs. However, I’d never seen one that seemed so intelligent and it “creeped me out”.
After I’d calmed down I went onto the internet to see if I could find out what it was. I’ve concluded that it’s a jumping spider (what a shocker). According to Common Spiders of New York:
Jumping spiders are easily identified by their large eyes, squat bodies and sturdy legs. They are very intelligent, colorful spiders with distinct personalities. Jumping spiders have excellent vision and will often turn to look at you as you approach. They hunt during the day, eating insects and other spiders. They get their name from their ability to jump impressive distances while searching in vegetation or catching prey. Before jumping, these spiders will touch their abdomens to the ground to tack down their draglines. That way if they miss their destination, their spinnerets clamp the silk so they only fall a short distance. When jumping spiders see prey that they cannot jump onto directly, they are known to take a detour route through the vegetation to put them into a position above the intended prey. Male jumping spiders court females by moving their brightly colored chelicerae, palps or leg tufts. In autumn, many jumping spiders build silken retreats in goldenrod plants, windowsills, or mailboxes.
I also found a much better picture of one.