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Another Squish Swat or Not

Squish, Swat…or Not!
Mary Ridout
It is perfect for a Halloween night. The moon is rising, the wind is creaking the branches outside
the window. Suddenly, out of the shadows of your dresser leaps something small but
hairy—with eight legs! Do you stand your ground or run?!? Do you squish, swat, or not?
This little guy definitely has no fear and seems intent on sending Homo sapiens cowering into a
corner if bluff can accomplish that! Maxing out at 3/8 of an inch long the little fellow actively
hunts insect prey rather than patiently constructing webs to snare its dinner. Although it only
consumes insects and other spiders, the gray jumper appears ready to take on anything that
challenges its territory.
The gray jumping spider is one of nearly 6000 species of jumpers found worldwide. All stalk
their prey and pounce on any unwary or overly curious victims, seizing them with their tooth-
like jaws, called chelicerae. Jumping spiders can jump forward and backward even up to 15
inches to escape threats. They may use their silk to as a rappel line to safely climb down or drop
from high places—like your dresser top.
With eight eyes, jumping spiders have excellent vision for spiders, allowing them to safely stalk
their prey, but giving you the uncanny feeling you are being watched—as you are! But they are
mostly wanting to make sure you make no dangerous moves. Swat or not? Definitely, NOT!
These little fellows eat a lot of house and garden pests. If it looks a little too much like
Halloween, place it outdoors. It will happily protect your garden from vicious plant pests!

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