- only species with images listed
Images and Species Descriptions
Text and photographs © 2011 Jørgen Lissner
The Spiders of Europe and Greenland
Family: Cybaeidae (Pond Water Spiders)
Biology: A fairly small family of which only a very few species reside in Europe. While the water spider is the only representative of the family in northern Europe, three more species in the Cybaeus genus are found in central and southern Europe.
Taxonomic note: The sole representative in northern Europe Argyroneta aquatica (water spider) has previously been placed in the monotypic family Argyronetidae due to the unique adaptations to the aquatic life, which set this species apart from its terrestrial relatives. The species has now been transferred to Cybaeidae, as recent scientific studies of fossil spiders indicate that differences from other cybaeids, such as the adaptations to the aquatic life can be derived as specializations of cybaeid traits. This transfer of a monotypic species has resulted in a problem in respect to the common name of the family. The common name for the discontinued Argyronetidae, water spiders, has for some reason been transferred to Cybaeidae as well, despite only one of the about 150 species in this family has an aquatic lifestyle. A new common name for Cybaeidae is therefore needed, and the use of water spider should be restricted to genus and species level.
This family is represented in Europe with 12 species in 3 genera (van Helsdingen, 2009; Platnick, 2009). European genera (number of species in parenthesis): Argyroneta (2), Cedicus (1), Cybaeus (9).
Genus: Argyroneta Latreille, 1804
Characters of genus: Argyroneta aquatica is the sole member of the genus, with one subspecies, A. aquatica japonica, described from Japan. The latin word "Argyroneta" translates in to "silvery net", and refers to the unique underwater diving-bell that the species creates.
There are 2 European species (van Helsdingen, 2009; Platnick, 2009): Argyroneta aquatica, A. palustris (nomen dubium).
Argyroneta aquatica (Clerck, 1757) - Water Spider
Description: Medium-sized spider fully adapted for an aquatic life-style. Carapace pale to dark yellowish brown. Abdomen with dense pubescense appearing velvet-grey on land. But when in water, air is trapped around the abdomen giving it a silvery appearance. Legs coloured as carapace. Legs III and IV are furnished with long fine hairs that aid in swimming. These swimhairs are easily seen with a lens when the spider is examined in a tray with water, and identifies both immatures and adults. The species is one of very few spider species where the male usually is larger than the female. They build a retreat in the form of an underwater diving-bell, which is kept filled with air collected at the surface. The species has a reputation of being able to deliver a painful bite. Size: Female 8-12 mm; male 10-15 mm. Maturity: All year. Habitat: Ponds, streams with little current and shallow lakes, usually where there is well-developed aquatic vegetation. Range: Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia/Herzegowina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France (Mainland), Germany, Great Britain (Mainland), Great Britain (Northern Ireland), Hungary, Ireland, Italy (Mainland), Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway (Mainland), Poland, Romania, Russia (Central European), Russia (Eastern European), Russia (Kaliningrad Region), Russia (Northern European), Russia (NW. European), Russia (Southern European), Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain (Mainland), Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, Yugoslavia (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: Palearctic (Platnick 10.0).