Around 35,000 spider species have been documented in the world so far, and there exists thousands of other species that have not yet been officially described. Of these 35,000 species, the whole of North America is home to a mere 3,000 spider species. As far as arachnophobes are concerned, this number is 3,000 too many, but not all spiders are terrifying monsters that grow urticating hairs and enormous fangs. In fact, a great many spider species prey upon and kill massive amounts of common insect pests within homes and on residential lawns.
The spiders that residents of the northeast find within their gardens likely provide a valuable pest control service. For example, common garden spiders, wolf spiders, agrarian sac spiders and Parson spiders, are just a few spider species that feed on insect pests that destroy plants and infest homes. Unfortunately, this means that all of the above named spiders are found in homes, and while their indoor presence does not pose a significant threat of any kind, many people are uncomfortable sharing their home with rather large arachnids. One rarely mentioned spider species that is frequently found within New England homes is the Orchestina saltitans species. Although the O. saltitans spider reduces insect pest populations within and around homes, many people will find this species’ habit of jumping to be off-putting.
The O. saltitans spider is one of many species belonging to the understudied Oonopidae family. Spiders belonging to this mysterious family are commonly referred to as “goblin spiders”. The O. saltitans species dwells within rural and residential areas where they can be found sheltered beneath leaf-litter, rocks and manmade structures. In some regions of the US, the O. saltitans spider maintains a constant presence indoors, and many entomologists refer to this species as a “house spider”. Although this spider is quite small at only 1-2 mm in body length, their habit of moving to new places by jumping as opposed to crawling often catches the attention of a home’s occupants. The O. saltitans species is often found on walls and tabletops. This species can be recognized for its prominent black stripe and its purple-colored abdomen.
Have you ever witnessed a spider within your home jump?