Nursery web spider

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Nursery web spiders
Temporal range: Palaeogene–present
Nursery web spider (Nilus albocinctus) female.jpg
Nilus albocinctus, female
Sabah, Borneo
Dolomedes fimbriatus.jpg
Dolomedes fimbriatus with its nursery of babies
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Chelicerata
Class: Arachnida
Order: Araneae
Infraorder: Araneomorphae
Family: Pisauridae
Simon, 1890
51 genera, 508 species

Nursery web spiders (Pisauridae) is a family of araneomorph spiders first described by Eugène Simon in 1890.[1] They resemble wolf spiders (Lycosidae) except for several key differences. Wolf spiders have two very prominent eyes in addition to the other six, while a nursery web spider's eyes are all about the same size.[2] Additionally, female nursery web spiders carry their egg sacs with their jaws and pedipalps instead of attaching them to their spinnerets as wolf spiders do. When the eggs are about to hatch, a female spider builds a nursery "tent", places her egg sac inside, and stands guard outside, hence the family's common name. Like the wolf spiders, however, the nursery web spiders are roaming hunters that don't use webs for catching prey.

Species occur throughout the world except for extremely dry or cold environments, and are common just about everywhere. Many can walk on the surface of still bodies of water and may even dive beneath the surface temporarily to escape enemies. They can jump a distance of 5 to 6 inches (130 to 150 mm), but they have trouble climbing extremely smooth surfaces such as glass.

The name "nursery web spider" is especially given to the European species Pisaura mirabilis, but this family also includes fishing spiders and raft spiders. Adult female specimens may reach up to 15mm in length, excluding legs. The legs of the male are longer in relation to body size than those of the female.[3]

The female spider sometimes attempts to eat the male after mating. The male, to reduce the risk of this, often presents the female with a gift such as a fly when approaching in the hope that this will satisfy her hunger. Sometimes, this gift is a fake present intended to fool the female.[4] Males may wrap the fake gift in silk, to deceive the female to mate. Females can detect the fake gift and terminate mating, negating the male's deception in not giving a real gift.[5]


As of April 2019, the World Spider Catalog accepts the following genera:[6]

Some fossilized spiders have also been assigned to this family:[7]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Simon, E. (1890). Etudes arachnologiques.
  2. ^ Sierwald, P. (1997). "Phylogenetic analysis of Pisaurine nursery web spiders, with revisions of Tetragonophthalma and Perenethis (Araneae, Lycosidae, Pisauridae)" (PDF). The Journal of Arachnology. 25: 361–407.
  3. ^ Anderson, Alissa G.; Hebets, Eileen A. (2016). "Benefits of size dimorphism and copulatory silk wrapping in the sexually cannibalistic nursery web spider, Pisaurina mira". Biology Letters. 12 (2): 20150957. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2015.0957. PMC 4780555. PMID 26911340.
  4. ^ Male Spiders Scam Females with Gift-Wrapped Garbage
  5. ^ Albo, Maria J; Winther, Gudrun; Tuni, Cristina; Toft, Søren; Bilde, Trine (2011-11-14). "Worthless donations: male deception and female counter play in a nuptial gift-giving spider". BMC Evolutionary Biology. 11 (1): 329. doi:10.1186/1471-2148-11-329. PMC 3228764. PMID 22082300.
  6. ^ "Family: Pisauridae Simon, 1890". World Spider Catalog. Natural History Museum Bern. Retrieved 2019-04-23.
  7. ^ Dunlop, J.A.; Penney, D.; Jekel, D. (2015). "A summary list of fossil spiders and their relatives" (PDF). World Spider Catalog. Natural History Museum Bern. Retrieved 2016-03-15.