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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: 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).
Female with egg sack.