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Images and Species Descriptions
Text and photographs © 2011 Jørgen Lissner
The Spiders of Europe and Greenland
Family: Nesticidae (Comb-footed Cellar Spiders)
Biology: The common name for the family is comb-footed cellar spiders or scaffold web spiders. Most European species are found in south and southeast Europe, and only three species of Nesticus reach central Europe. One of these (Nesticus cellulanus) reaches as far North as Scandinavia. Eidmannella pallida is of North American origin, but has now become a cosmopolitan species, introduced to much of the world, however not northern Europe. The species of the family make irregular wide meshed cobwebs.
Characters of family: The spiders of the family Nesticidae are closely related to the Theridiidae (comb-footed spiders). Most specimens of both families have a comb of 6-10 serrated bristles on tarsus IV that are used to pull silk from the spinnerets. The Nesticids differ from the Theridiids by having a thickened edge on the anterior rim of the lower lip (rebordered labium), and by having longer legs, particularly the first pair. The legs are densely clothed with fairly long bristles, longer than in any theridiid. Leg spines are few, and differ only scarcely from the leg bristles. The eight eyes of the Nesticids are arranged in two rows of four.
This family is represented in Europe with 46 species in 7 genera (van Helsdingen, 2009; Platnick, 2009). European genera (number of species in parenthesis): Aituaria (1), Canarionesticus (1), Carpathonesticus (15), Eidmannella (1), Nesticella (1), Nesticus (26), Typhlonesticus (1).
Genus: Eidmannella Roewer, 1935
There is 1 European species (van Helsdingen, 2009; Platnick, 2009): Eidmannella pallida.
Eidmannella pallida (Emerton, 1875)
Range: Portugal (Azores), Portugal (Madeira), Spain (Balearic Islands), Spain (Canary Islands) (introduced) (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: Cosmopolitan (Platnick 10.0).
Genus: Nesticus Thorell, 1869
Characters of genus: This is the largest genus of the family. The majority are cave dwellers known from temperate areas. About 25 species are known from Europe. Clypeus is high and higher than the distance between the anterior and posterior medial eyes. The eyes are equal-sized. The anterior row is very slightly recurved while the posterior is procurved. Anterior medials are small and situated on a small lobe. Spiders of the genus is further characterised by having a large vestigial bump (colulus) in front of the spinnerets.
There are 26 European species (van Helsdingen, 2009; Platnick, 2009): Nesticus arenstorffi, N. balacescui, N. beroni, N. beshkovi, N. carpaticus, N. cellulanus, N. cellulanus affinis, N. cernensis, N. constantinescui, N. diaconui, N. eremita, N. fagei, N. henderickxi, N. idriacus, N. ionescui, N. luquei, N. lusitanicus, N. morisii, N. murgis, N. obcaecatus, N. orghidani, N. plesai, N. sbordonii, N. speluncarum, N. wiehlei.
Nesticus cellulanus (Clerck, 1757)
Description: Carapace light yellow brown with irregular black median band and black margins. The maxillae are longer than broad and furnished with dense brushes of hairs. Sternum is uniformly light yellow-brown. The palpal organs of the male are of complex structure, and possess a well-developed, sickle-shaped paracymbium. The female palps possess a claw. Legs coloured as carapace, usually with clear black annulations. The leg tarsi have three tarsal claws. Tarsus IV with a ventral row of vaguely serrated bristles constituting a comb. The abdomen is conspicuously patterned dorsally, light olive green in colour with blackish rings or cells anteriorly. Posteriorly, there are some transverse blackish bars in the midline. The venter sometimes has blackish spots in front of the spinnerets. The female carries the whitish-yellow eggsack in the summer months attached to the spinnerets. Size: Female 4-5.5 mm; male 3.5-5 mm. Maturity: Adult males from April to July. Adult females mainly from May to September, but may be encountered all year. Habitat: Dark, damp places such as caves, cellars, wells, drains, under boulders, under overhanging vegetation along ditches, in dark places in forests, inside cavities of Carex tussocks in wetlands, etc. Range: Austria, Belgium, Bosnia/Herzegowina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France (Mainland), Germany, Great Britain (Mainland), Great Britain (Northern Ireland), Greece (Mainland), Hungary, Ireland, Italy (Mainland), Italy (Sicily), Latvia, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Netherlands, Norway (Mainland), Poland, Romania, Russia (Central European), Russia (Eastern European), Russia (Northern European), Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain (Mainland), Sweden, Switzerland, Yugoslavia (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: Holarctic (Platnick 10.0).
Male palp.
Female abdominal markings.
Subadult male.
Subadult male.