Phiddipus regius (P. regius)
Who doesn’t love a good story about royalty? I know I do, which is why I’m excited to write about the P. regius jumping spider. This species seems to remain popular among jumping spider enthusiasts and those that keep jumpers as pets.
The regius’ common name is regal and regus in Latin means “the royal”. It's no wonder the regal is considered royalty. They are known for their color variations ranging from gray, tan, brown, red, etc.
The regals range anywhere from 6-22 mm in length, with the females averaging slightly larger than the males. This makes them the largest known jumping spider in eastern North America. Males always alternate black and white on their first pair of legs. The dorsum (back) of the abdomen has white spots that, in my opinion, look similar to a face. Many people tend to mix up the male regal and the audax because they do look similar.
Since I am taking this educational journey with you, I wanted to be able to provide a guide on how to tell the difference between them. I was able to find something detailing the differences between the audax, regal, and otiosus thanks to the University of Florida’s entomology page. I don’t know if that helps, but it is something.
Basically, that translates into a bunch of stuff I still don’t understand. Keep reading, we will get there together.
The regals chelicerae range from iridescent green, purple (*ahem* royal purple), red, blue, etc. and they have four tufts of setae (hair or bristle like hair) around their dorsal eyes. These setae look a lot like eyelashes in my opinion. I think it gives them personality and highlights the royal namesake.
My what big eyes you have!
Overall regals are pretty calm in nature from birth to adulthood. If any of you have a regal, I’m sure you have seen it. If you don't have a regal, or just want to watch their personalities in action, check out some videos from Phantistic Phids and Ophelia, the monster. These two breeders often post videos of their regals interacting with other spiders.
Check them out, they are fun to watch!
They are playful and some great companions.
Also, their trainable nature gave them a starring role in a study by the University of Manchester where they trained a regal to jump on command.
Obligatory disclaimer: If you are going to socialize your spiders with each other, make sure to keep a close watch. They can be carnivorous. We do not recommend housing them together.
Location and Habitat
In the United States, the regal is commonly found in the Florida peninsula, but have also been found in the Greater Antilles and the Bahamas. Which should indicate their preferred climate; warm and humid. The regal is found in fairly open spaces like fields and/or not matured woodlands. Sub adults and adults prefer palms or semiarid habitats. They are also found on the walls of buildings.
The females like to hide in bark when they are getting ready to lay their eggs. This keeps them hidden and safe. Females also lay up to 4 batches of eggs in their lifetime, each batch of eggs gets smaller, but the first batch can be as much as 180 eggs. Of course, not all the eggs/spiderlings will make it, which is why they lay so many.
We are working on putting together a care sheet, but I want to highlight the individual needs of these guys. As mentioned above, they prefer high humidity which can create a challenge for those of us living in a dry climate. If your humidity is not what it is in Florida, they can still be kept successfully, but they will require special attention. For the sake of these little guys, if you live in a dry climate and aren’t prepared to check their humidity levels at least daily, you may want to consider a jumper more native to your area.
Because we are in Utah, we make sure to mist these guys daily. However, there is too much of a good thing. They do prefer humidity, but they also need ventilation to keep them from becoming too humid. We maintain good cross ventilation with our condos, which allows easy misting and can help reduce your chances of ending up with mold and bacteria growth. Proper ventilation is the key to helping reduce a potential problem.