There is a little acrobat living in my bathroom. His name is, apparently, Salticus scenicus, which means ‘leaping actor’. He is – not to put too fine a point on it – a spider.
Jumping spiders are hugely lovable. S. scenicus is the jumping spider known as the Zebra Spider (on account, obviously, of being striped in dapper black and white). As Peter Marren has noted, they are ‘delightful to watch for the jerky way they scuttle about on walls… catching some small fly or aphid with a sudden leap (after taking the precaution of first spinning a safety harness)’ (Bugs Britannica, Chatto & Windus, 2010).
‘Jerky’ is right. The Zebra Spider’s movements are distinctly reminiscent of the early stop-motion animations developed by the film-making genius Ray Harryhausen.
Here’s a fact for you to share at dinner-parties: the Zebra Spider is thought to have the best eyesight of any invertebrate. This means, among other things, that the S. scenica in my bathroom has been watching me in the shower with his many beady eyes. The dirty little beast.