Distances at which jumping spiders (Salticidae) use optical cues to distinguish between prey insects and conspecific rivals were investigated using adult males of 37 species. During tests, salticids walked up a ramp toward a mirror or toward an insect enclosed in a transparent petri dish. All species directed threat displays toward their own mirror images and the displays were comparable to each species' typical behaviour during male–male interactions. The salticids never displayed in tests with insects at the top of the ramp. The virtual distances at which the spiders displayed are interpreted as an indication of the distances at which each species can distinguish rivals from prey. Representative species were from the subfamilies Lyssomaninae, Spartaeinae and Salticinae. Discrimination distances relate well to the foveal layer I receptor mosaics of the anterior median eyes for the three subfamilies. Compared with the salticines, the lyssomanines and, except for Portia, the spartaeines tended to have shorter discrimination distances. Portia spp. had discrimination distances comparable to the longest recorded for the salticines. The longest discrimination distances found were for the salticine Mogrus neglectus (max. 320 mm or 42 body lengths) and for the spartaeine Portia fimbriata (280 mm or 47 body lengths).