What is a Portia Spider?

Famed for its problem solving abilities and high intelligence levels, the Portia Spider is a formidable hunter and a member of the jumping spider family. It is an usual creature, both in terms of its appearance and behavioural patterns, and interestingly, it primarily preys on other spiders, rather than insects.

In total, there are 17 different species which fall under the Portia genus, and those spiders are spread throughout the continents of Asia, Africa and Australia. Perhaps the best known is the Portia labiata. A skilled and patient predator, the Portia is a master of deception and adaptation, capable of using complex tactics in order to move in for the kill.

This website is intended to serve as an educational resource, providing visitors with facts, figures and other information about these fascinating spiders, which have been referred to as 'Eight-Legged Cats'.

Appearance, Movement and Behaviour

In terms of appearance, the Portia can reach sizes of around 10mm and is often said to resemble leaf scraps or other fragments of vegetation; an attribute which it uses to its advantage, serving as natural camouflage. One of the spider's most distinctive features is its hind legs, which are usually held high above its other limbs.

Unlike many other types of jumping spider, Portias are relatively slow and 'choppy' in their movement, stopping at irregular intervals. However, a similarity with other spider species is that the female is dominant and often engages in cannibalism, eating male Portias either during or after the mating process.

Where Is the Portia Spider Found?

Some of the countries where at least one of the 17 species of Portia Spider have been found include:

Intelligent Hunter

Arguably the most intriguing aspect of the spider's behaviour is its intelligent hunting technique, which helps to make it a truly unique creature. Although the Portia is able to adapt to hunt a variety of different prey, its favourite targets are web-building spiders - including some which are up to twice the size of the Portia itself!

One of the Portia's most popular methods of attack is to invade the web of another spider, and then pluck at the silk, skilfully imitating the vibrations made by either trapped prey or a male hoping to mate. After luring the spider in, the Portia strikes quickly and eats it. Amazingly, Portia Spiders are able to learn which vibrations attract other spiders and adapt through trial and error. Such intelligence is usually only displayed by significantly larger animals.

Moreover, Portias are capable of advanced planning and are willing to use lengthy detours and smokescreen tactics in order to prevent prey from making visual contact with them. The creature's advanced hunting techniques are further aided by incredible eyesight, which allows it to see and identify targets up to 40 body lengths away.