Myrmekiaphila is a genus of trapdoor spiders in the family Cyrtaucheniidae. All described species are endemic to the southeastern USA. The genus was transferred from the Ctenizidae by Raven in 1985. M. flavipes was transferred from genus Aptostichus in 2007.
The known species of this genus resemble each other in appearance and behavior. The carapace is 2.8 to 8 mm long and 2.25 to 6.81 mm wide. Females are uniformly colored, with some dusky stripes on the dorsum of the abdomen. Colors range from yellowish red to dark reddish brown. The palpal tibia of the males are modified in a way that distinguishes them from other mygalomorph spiders of North America. The first legs in males are modified as mating claspers.
All members live in subterranean, silk-lined burrows that are covered by a silken-soil trap door. Some species construct side chambers that can be closed off by secondary trap doors, a feature that is unique among Cyrtaucheniidae. While the related Promyrmekiaphila and Aptostichus also build side chambers, they do not close them with trap doors.
The genus is endemic to the southeastern United States, where it ranges from northern Virginia along the Appalachian Mountains southward through West Virginia, Kentucky, North and South Carolina, Tennessee and northern Georgia into the Southeastern Plain of Alabama, Mississippi and Florida.
While Myrmekiaphila is now placed in the monophyletic subfamily Euctenizinae of Cyrtaucheniidae, it is likely that the Euctenizinae will be placed in a different family in the near future. Myrmekiaphila appears as the sister group to all southwestern Euctenizidae with the exception of Apomastus, which in turn is the sister group to all euctenizines.
Genus describer Atkinson collected his specimens while hunting for ants, and found Myrmekiaphila always in close proximity to ant nests. Hence he gave the genus this name, derived from Ancient Greek myrmex "ant" and philein "to love", with the meaning "fond of ant nests".
Three species groups are currently recognized. These are only intended to facilitate identification based on the male palp; it is not known if they represent monophyletic taxa. M. flavipes is only known from females and thus not grouped.
- foliata group
- fluviatilis group
- minuta group
- Myrmekiaphila minuta Bond & Platnick, 2007
- unplaced species
- Platnick 2008
- Bond & Platnick 2007
- Ubick et al. 2005
- Bond, Jason, Chris Hamilton, Nicole Garrison, Charles Ray. 2012. Phylogenetic reconsideration of Myrmekiaphila systematics with a description of the new trapdoor spider species Myrmekiaphila tigris (Araneae, Mygalomorphae, Cyrtaucheniidae, Euctenizinae) from Auburn, Alabama. ZooKeys 190 (2012): 95-109.
- Ubick, Darrell; Paquin, Pierre; Cushing, Paula E. & Roth, Vince (2005): Spiders of North America: An Identification Manual. ISBN 0-9771439-0-2
- Bond, Jason E. & Platnick, Norman I. (2007): A taxonomic review of the trapdoor spider genus Myrmekiaphila (Araneae, Mygalomorphae, Cyrtaucheniidae). American Museum novitates 3596. Abstract (PDF available)
- Platnick, Norman I. (2008): The world spider catalog, version 8.5. American Museum of Natural History.
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