- filtered for Great Britain (Mainland)
Images and Species Descriptions
Text and photographs © 2011 Jørgen Lissner
The Spiders of Europe and Greenland
Family: Pisauridae (Nursery-web Spiders)
Biology: The spiders of this family resemble Wolfspiders (Lycosidae) by having the eyes arranged in three rows, with the first row composed of four eyes in a transverse row. However, they differ from the Lycosidae by having the size difference between the eyes smaller, and by having more elongate bodies with different markings. They are large spiders with long legs. The first two pairs often are held together at an angle when resting and when sensing prey. They do not use snares but hunt their prey actively in low vegetation or in ambush. The female spiders belonging to this family make large egg sacs, which is held by the chelicerae and palps beneath their body. When it is time for the spiderlings to emerge, the female fastens the egg sac to leaves or branches of small bushes, and spins a protective nursery web around it. The spiderlings stay in the nursery web until their second moult while the female stands guard over it. The family is represented with three species in two genera in North and Central Europe.
Genus: Dolomedes Latreille, 1804
Characters of genus: Large and robust spiders. The are known as raft or fishing spiders. The occur in swampy habitats, and are able to grab land withdraw arge prey animals such as tadpoles and small sticklebacks from the water. Immatures also hunts on land amongst herbs, and on moss. Fishing spiders are able to crawl down the stems or leaves of water plants if threatened, and can remain submerged up to an hour. Dolomedes plantarius is more prone to dive or crawl under than D. fimbriatus. The two species overlap in general appearance, but as both species usually occur in some numbers it is fairly easy to determine the species is present by looking at which colour form dominates. If both species are present at a locality, it can be difficult to assign individuals to species.
Dolomedes fimbriatus (Clerck, 1757) - Raft spider
Description: Males are similar in appearance to females, but have smaller abdomens. Carapace dark brown usually with striking whitish or yellowish lateral bands composed of light hairs. Abdomen dark brown with white or yellowish sides. Legs brown with dense pubescense of light hairs which may appear bluish in flash photos. Legs of immatures are greenish. Size: Female 15-22 mm; male 10-16 mm. Maturity: May to June, females continuing into August. Habitat: Damp, swampy habitats such as Sphagnum bogs, usually near patches of open water. The species is generally found at drier places than its close relative, D. plantarius. Range: Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France (Corsica), France (Mainland), Germany, Great Britain (Mainland), Hungary, Ireland, Italy (Mainland), Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxemburg, 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).
Female.
Male.
Old female guarding abandoned nursery web..
Juvenile.
Juvenile.
Dolomedes plantarius (Clerck, 1757)
Description: Similar to D. fimbriatus but slightly larger, and usually more greenish-brown in colouration. The light lateral bands are often lacking, but some individuals possess markings that resemble those of D. fimbriatus. These individuals require examination of the genitialia using a lens or microscope. Size: Female 15-25 mm; male 10-16 mm. Maturity: May to June, females continuing into August. Habitat: Similar to D. fimbriatus but much rarer. Range: Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France (Mainland), Germany, Great Britain (Mainland), Greece (Mainland), Hungary, Italy (Mainland), Italy (Sardinia), Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia (Central European), Russia (Eastern European), Russia (Northern European), Russia (NW. European), Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, Yugoslavia (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: Europe, Russia (Platnick 10.0).
Juvenile.
Juvenile.
Subadult male.
Subadult male.
Subadult male.
Genus: Pisaura Simon, 1885
Characters of genus: The species has a very characteristic appearance with a slender tapering abdomen.
Pisaura mirabilis (Clerck, 1757) - Nursery-web spider
Description: Males generally similar to females but often sligthly darker and with more noticeable markings. The markings are variable but nevertheless very characteristic. The general colouration varies from grey to orange or shades of brown. Carapace often with broad dark median band enclosing a thin white or yellowish median stripe. Frequently, this stripe extends forward as a pointed hair tuft in front of the eyes. The species also possess some characteristic light "side whiskers" at sides of head. Abdomen with light sides and dark central folium which may contain a light central band or vague chevrons. Legs clothed with fine light and brown hairs, and appear uniform light brown from a distance. Size: Female 11-15 mm; male 10-12 mm. Maturity: May to June, females continuing into July. Habitat: Open places with usually tall herbs and low bushes such as grassland, heathland and woodland clearings. The species is found in dry habitats in contrast to members of the Dolomedes genus. Range: Andorra, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France (Corsica), France (Mainland), Germany, Great Britain (Channel Islands), Great Britain (Mainland), Great Britain (Northern Ireland), Greece (Crete), Greece (Cyclades), Greece (Dodecanese Islands), Greece (Mainland), Hungary, Ireland, Italy (Mainland), Italy (Sardinia), Italy (Sicily), Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway (Mainland), Poland, Portugal (Mainland), Romania, Russia (Central European), Russia (Eastern European), Russia (Kaliningrad Region), Russia (Northern European), Russia (NW. European), Russia (Southern European), Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain (Balearic Islands), Spain (Canary Islands), Spain (Mainland), Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, Yugoslavia (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: Palearctic (Platnick 10.0).
Juvenile.
Male.
Male.
Female with egg sack.