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Images and Species Descriptions
Text and photographs © 2011 Jørgen Lissner
The Spiders of Europe and Greenland
Family: Dictynidae (Meshweb Weavers)
Biology: The Dictynidae is relatively species rich encompassing 563 species in 48 genera. The highest diversity is found in the temperate regions. They range in size from very small to medium (1.3-8.0 mm body size). The family is grouped into three rather different subfamilies: Dictyninae, Cicurininae, and Tricholathysinae. Dictynids are cribellate but cribellum is reduced in the Cicurininae. The lifestyle is quite different among the subfamilies. The Dictyninae, encompassing such genera as Dictyna, Emblyna and Nigma are mostly plant dwellers and are found in low vegetation as well as higher up such as shoot apices of grass and bushes or the foliage of trees. Here they build irregular, woolly mesh webs often made of bluish cribellate silk. The Cicurininae (e.g. Cicurina and Lathys) and Tricholathysinae (e.g. Argenna and Altella) are mostly ground-dwellers building their webs underneath logs, stones, and other objects on the ground. They are found in a variety of habitats. Members of the Tricholathysinae are also found in salt marshes and in algal upwash.
Characters of family: The dictynids are characterized by having 3 tarsal claws. They are cribellate but in many species the cribellum is reduced. They possess 8 eyes, however there are some 6-eyed Cicurina species in which the anterior medials are reduced. Some blind, cave dwelling Cicurina species even have they eyes reduced to zero. The calamistrum if present is arranged in one row (uniseriate). The cribellum is usually wide in those species possessing cribellum, bipartite or entire (absent in Cicurininae). The cephalic region of the Dictyninae is usually high perhaps to fit the relatively large poison glands. In this subfamily the cephalic region is furnished with longitudinal rows of white hairs. These are not present in the Tricholathysinae in which the carapace is pear-shaped. The sternum is triangular. The chelicerae are long and modified in males of some genera, e.g. Dictyna. The males of this genera has the chelicerae concave in front and bowed outward near the middle, often having a well developed mastidion (denticle or tubercle) on the anterior face of the chelicerae. The endites are converging. Legs are moderately long and usually without spines. In some genera tarsus of each leg are without a trichobothrium (e.g. Dictyna) while tarsus of each leg has one trichobothrium in others (e.g. Lathys). In Cicurina, tarsus of each leg possesses a series of trichobothria, which increase in length towards the distal end as in some genera of the Agelenidae family. In yet other dictynid genera there are two tarsal series of trichobothria. The abdomen is oval to elongate, often overhanging the carapace and densely covered with fine hairs, which sometimes are distributed to form a pattern. The cardiac mark is clear in some genera as in Dictyna but indistinct or absent in others as in Cicurina. Dictynids are entelegyne with the epigyne weakly sclerotized in some genera (e.g. Dictyna and Argenna) while more sclerotized in other genera (e.g. Cicurina). The male palp has a tibial apophysis. The embolus is long and slender in most species.
Genus: Ajmonia Caporiacco, 1934
Ajmonia patellaris (Simon, 1911)
Range: Spain (Balearic Islands) (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: Algeria (Platnick 10.0).
Male.
Male.
Male.
Male.
Male.
Male.
Male.
Male.
Genus: Altella Simon, 1884
Altella lucida (Simon, 1874)
Range: Belgium, Croatia, France (Mainland), Germany, Great Britain (Mainland), Italy (Mainland), Portugal (Azores), Slovakia, Slovenia?, Spain (Balearic Islands), Spain (Mainland), Ukraine (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: Europe (Platnick 10.0).
Genus: Lathys Simon, 1884
Characters of genus: The small members of this genus are characterized by having much smaller anterior medial eyes than the rest.
Lathys heterophthalma Kulczynski, 1891
Range: Croatia, Spain (Balearic Islands)? (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: France, Croatia (Platnick 10.0).
Lathys narbonensis (Simon, 1876)
Range: France (Mainland), Italy (Mainland), Portugal (Mainland)?, Spain (Balearic Islands)? (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: France, Italy (Platnick 10.0).
Genus: Nigma Lehtinen, 1967
Nigma flavescens (Walckenaer, 1830)
Range: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, France (Mainland), Germany, Great Britain (Channel Islands), Greece (Mainland), Hungary, Italy (Mainland), Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Moldova, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal (Mainland), Romania, Russia (Central European), Slovakia, Spain (Balearic Islands), Spain (Mainland), Switzerland, Ukraine, Yugoslavia (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: Palearctic (Platnick 10.0).
Subadult male.
Subadult male.
Male.
Male.
Male.
Male.