The main character of this story is a Jumping Spider called Aelurillus v-insignitus. It is widespread on sandy, rocky subsoil with scarce vegetation throughout Central Europe. Here it hunts and reproduces already from April onwards. The courtship behaviour displayed by the Jumping Spider is very fascinating and rarely seen.

The little male, which is four to six millimetres small, is marked by the eponymous feature: a bright V-shaped sign above its eyes. Strictly speaking, it actually should be called Aelurillus duo-v-insignitus, the "double-V-marked", as the male has two bright V-signs on its forehead that are clearly recognizable.

The female is five to seven millimetres big and grey and black spotted, thus being excellently disguised in the habitat this spider genus lives in.

Very often, it stays well disguised in a hiding-place between little stones or, like you can see on the right-hand side, under a leaf.

The physical features of the spider dwarf already reveal some details about its way of life. It is provided with a total of eight eyes of which the two main eyes on its front are parallel to one another and remarkably large. It does not need those eyes in order to spin cobwebs and to ambush prey that gets caught up in it and is completely committed to its captor. Those large forward-facing eyes are rather an excellent means of recognizing movements and assessing distances. And those two optical qualities are exactly the factors the spider's hunting success depends on. Either it remains motionless in its hiding-place as a sit-and-wait predator until it spots a potential prey by its movement...

..... like on this photo showing the spider between the opened scales of a pine cone lying on the ground .....

..... or on the blossoms of plants whose nectar lures insects which in turn are an attractive prey to the spider.

Or, as a stalking predator, it searches the environment for tasty small animals.

Especially about noon the sun intensely heats up the stony or sandy immature soil. When the spider is not able to bear the radiating heat any longer, it gets up on its tiptoes so that the air can circulate below its body. Thus it provides itself a welcome cooling.

If it has spotted a prey, it slowly stalks it. During this process, it takes advantage of its two parallel main eyes on the front: those two eyes are an excellent means of assessing distances. Now it approaches the animal so far as it is able to overleap the last intermediate space - thus its jump completely surprises its prey.
Here (see photo on the right-hand side) the female Aelurillus v-insignitus has overcome another little spider and quickly killed it with a bite.

The male Aelurillus v-insignitus uses the same hunting strategies as the female. Whether the prey sits on the ground in front of the predator .....

..... or above on a bank - as soon as the spider has spotted its prey it keeps fixing its gaze on it while stalking it step by step. Like a laser beam the spider focuses its eyes on the prey in order to assess the intermediate distance again and again. When the prey is just one "Aelurillus v-insignitus-leap" away, it usually has not the ghost of a chance any more.

The male spider, which is only a few millimetres big, is able to capture animals larger than itself by means of its compact robust frame. Here it has captured and beheaded a defensive ant.

By executing its fatal bite, the predator injects the prey with poison. The prey falls asleep, it dies and its inner body liquefies due to the injected lotion. The spider then literally drinks up the killed animal. It keeps turning around its prey so that the entire contents leak out and can be absorbed by means of its mandibles.

Another main activity of the male Jumping Spider is the reproduction. During this procedure, the male has to be on its guard - the bigger female may regard it as a prey, may kill and eat it. Therefore it remains at a safe distance of five to ten centimetres from the female and waits until the latter has overcome a prey. Now that's the great moment for the spider dwarf, because as long as the female eats its prey, the male does not run the risk of falling victim to the much sought-after spider lady.
The courtship behaviour now displayed by the male can be called the epitome of a spider-ecstasy: It raises its two front legs above its head, stands on tiptoe and starts vibrating strongly. While it is still five centimetres away from its chosen one, it fixes its two main eyes on the female.

The aroused spider male very excitedly presents its fiancée with the reddish underside of its front legs provided with two attractive leathery "elbow pads". In this way, it spirally walks in ever decreasing circles around the eating female, obtrusively fixing its gaze on the coveted.

Thus the Aelurillus v-insignitus-midget mutates into an Aelurillus v-insignitus-male looking very impressive by means of its erect quaky vibration dance.

The eating female, however, is still completely indifferent to the demeanour of its suitor. It just revolves in accordance with the "rotating" male, always turning its back on him.

Now the male is confronted with the difficult task of slowly advancing the seemingly uninterested female and of giving a good account of itself in order to increase the receptiveness of its beloved. On the other hand, it still runs the risk of becoming victim itself in case its courtship behaviour lasts too long and its chosen one has already finished eating its prey before the copula. In this case, the female sometimes is not willing to copulate, but virtually regards its suitor as a dessert and eats him up without further ado. Spiders commonly have a very strong prey drive.

A few days after the eggs are successfully fertilized, the pregnant female ready for oviposition looks for a suitable place to lay its eggs.

Now it spins a protective cocoon below small pieces of wood or, like you can see on the photo on the left-hand side, in the interior of a leaf folded together.

In the cocoon, the female lays the eggs that are additionally protected by a further gossamer.
The female, which is significantly thinner now, guards the eggs in the cocoon until the young spiders hatch. Then it stays a few hours till a few days with its offspring in order to protect it from first dangers. After that, the young spiders go their own way - with the aim of also laying fertilized eggs as females or of being hot stuff on the (courtship) dance floor as males in the following year.