Distinguished jumping spider
The Distinguished jumping spider is very rare – it has been found on only two sites in the UK West Thurrock Marshes, Essex and Swanscombe Peninsula, Kent.
Latin name: Sitticus distinguendus
Notable feature: Large front pair of eyes
Rarity in the UK: Rare / Common
Where in the UK: Only at two sites - West Thurrock Marshes, Essex and Swanscombe Peninsula, Kent
Distinguished jumping spider (Sitticus distinguendus) © Peter Harvey
The Distinguished jumping spider (Sitticus distinguendus) is a spider in the family Salticidae; known as the Jumping Spiders. This family has only 37 members in the UK, but worldwide it is the largest spider family containing over five thousand species.
They have a very large front pair of eyes, and are thought to possess the best vision for an invertebrate after cephalopods (octopus and relatives). This vision, along with an ability to jump, allows them to actively hunt their prey during the day.
Their keen eyesight also plays a part in courtship, where males can undertake elaborate dances to woo a female (and avoid being eaten!). A better known member of the family in this country is the Zebra spider (Salticus scenicus), which can be found hunting on sunlit fences and walls throughout most of the country.
Why does it need conserving?
The Distinguished jumping spider is a conservation priority, and has been placed on the UK list of Biodiversity Action Plan species.
The two sites at which it has been found are both within the Thames Gateway – Europe’s largest growth area – and both are brownfield sites – land that is prioritised for development by planning policy.
Brownfield sites are not merely derelict pieces of land littered with the remains of old buildings. Often nature has reclaimed these abandoned places and they are now hidden oases for wildlife, in the heart of our towns and cities.
During February 2008, Buglife took court action to try to stop the development of West Thurrock Marshes and the potential loss of this beautiful animal.