- only species with images listed
Images and Species Descriptions
Text and photographs © 2011 Jørgen Lissner
The Spiders of Europe and Greenland
Family: Sparassidae (Giant Crab Spiders)
Biology: Sparassidae is a mainly tropical family, with the majority of species found in south east Asia and Australia. Micrommata virescens is the only species occurring naturally in Northern and Central Europa, including Denmark. Tychicus longipes is introduced to the Netherlands from the island of Ambon, Indonesia.
Characters of family: They are characterised by flattened bodies and long legs which are more and less at right angles to the longitudinal axis of the spiders, making the spiders rather crab-like in appearance.
Taxonomic note: This family is also known by the names Heteropodidae and Eusparassidae.
This family is represented in Europe with 22 species in 7 genera (van Helsdingen, 2009; Platnick, 2009). European genera (number of species in parenthesis): Barylestis (2), Cerbalus (3), Eusparassus (3), Heteropoda (2), Micrommata (7), Olios (4), Tychicus (1).
Genus: Eusparassus Simon, 1903
There are 3 European species (van Helsdingen, 2009; Platnick, 2009): Eusparassus dufouri, E. levantinus, E. walckenaeri.
Eusparassus walckenaeri (Audouin, 1826)
Range: Cyprus, Greece (Crete), Greece (Cyclades), Greece (Dodecanese Islands), Greece (Mainland), Greece (North Aegean Islands), Ukraine (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: Eastern Mediterranean to Afghanistan (Platnick 10.0).
Female head.
Female.
Female abdominal markings.
Female.
Female.
Genus: Micrommata Latreille, 1804
Characters of genus: The species of the genus have an unmistakable appearance. The carapace is longer than broad and narrowed in the head region. The abdomen is elongate. The anterior row of eyes is recurved while the posterior row is straight or slightly procurved. The labium is small and semicircular. The lenght of legs IV are the longest, but are just slighly longer than legs I - III. They are not active hunters, but wait in the vegetation for prey to pass by and to be grabbed. The scopulae of tarsi and metatarsi are well developed, and provide excellent adherence to slippery substrates.
There are 7 European species (van Helsdingen, 2009; Platnick, 2009): Micrommata aljibica, M. aragonensis, M. formosa, M. ligurina, M. spinicra (nomen dubium), M. virescens, M. virescens ornata.
Micrommata ligurina (C. L. Koch, 1845)
Description: Similar to the larger M. virescens in overall appearance. Just like this species, the colour of the carapace and legs are emerald green. However, M. ligurina differs by having an indistinct blackish median band which at rear contains two slightly diverging black bars. Further difference include vague lateral bands made of blackish streaks, and the spination of Tibia IV which are furnished with two dorsal spines. Females have the cardiac mark outlined with dark lines. The abdomen of adult males has a dark rusty brown median band with greyish sides which makes them quite different from M. virescens males. Size: Female 9-14 mm; male 6-9 mm. Maturity: Adults are encountered in late winter and early spring. Habitat: On herbaceous vegetation. Range: Bulgaria, Croatia, France (Corsica), France (Mainland), Great Britain (Mainland) (introduced), Greece (Crete), Greece (Cyclades), Greece (Dodecanese Islands), Greece (Mainland), Italy (Mainland), Italy (Sardinia), Italy (Sicily), Macedonia, Malta, Portugal (Mainland), Romania, Spain (Balearic Islands), Spain (Mainland) (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: Mediterranean to Central Asia (Platnick 10.0).
Female.
Female.
Female.
Subadult male.
Subadult male.
Subadult male.
Subadult male.
Subadult male.
Male.
Male.
Subadult male.
Subadult male.
Micrommata virescens (Clerck, 1757) - Green Huntsman
Description: A rather large species with very distinct colouration making it impossible to confuse it with any other species in the region. The black eyes are ringed with white hairs. The carapace and legs are green in both males and females, and covered with white silky hairs. Tibia IV with one one dorsal spine which separates the species from M. ligurina which have two dorsal spines. Females and juveniles of both sexes have bright emerald green abdomens with a yellow median band which for the most part is filled with a green cardiac mark. Just before wintering, the young male moults into a light yellow colourform with indistinct longitudinal scarlet bands and spots on the abdomen. The male winter as subadult. The final moult takes place in May whereby the abdomen becomes shiny yellow decorated with three longtidinal vivid scarlet bands. Spiderlings are yellow with reddish spots, and resemble juvenile males somewhat. Adults are much less frequently encountered than immatures, especially males that have a very short season. Size: Female 12-15 mm; male 8-10 mm. Maturity: Males have a very short period in May and June, females from May to August. Habitat: Oak forests, often with undergrowth of blueberry and heather. Also on low vegetation in damp forest clearings, forest edges and moors. Range: Andorra, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia/Herzegowina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France (Corsica), France (Mainland), Germany, Great Britain (Mainland), Greece (Dodecanese Islands), Greece (Mainland), Hungary, Ireland, Italy (Mainland), Italy (Sardinia), Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Macedonia, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway (Mainland), Poland, Portugal (Mainland), Romania, Russia (Central European), Russia (Eastern European), Russia (Northern European), Russia (NW. European), Russia (Southern European), Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain (Balearic Islands), Spain (Mainland), Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, Yugoslavia (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: Palearctic (Platnick 10.0).
Juvenile.
Male.
Juvenile.
Male.
Male.
Subadult male.
Subadult female.
Subadult female.
Male.
Male.
Male.
Genus: Olios Walckenaer, 1837
There are 4 European species (van Helsdingen, 2009; Platnick, 2009): Olios argelasius, O. canariensis, O. hirtus, O. sanctivincenti.
Olios argelasius (Walckenaer, 1805)
Range: Andorra, Bulgaria, Croatia, France (Corsica), France (Mainland), Greece (Crete), Greece (Dodecanese Islands), Greece (Mainland), Greece (North Aegean Islands), Italy (Mainland), Italy (Sicily), Portugal (Mainland), Slovenia?, Spain (Mainland), Yugoslavia (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: Mediterranean (Platnick 10.0).
Female.
Subadult male.
Subadult male.
Subadult male.
Subadult male.
Female.
Female.
Female.
Female.
Female.
Female.
Female.
Male.
Olios canariensis (Lucas, 1838)
Range: Spain (Balearic Islands), Spain (Canary Islands) (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: Canary Is (Platnick 10.0).
Male.
Male.
Male, abdominal markings.
Male palp.