Nursery web spider

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Nursery web spider
Nursery web spider (Nilus albocinctus) female.jpg
Nilus albocinctus, female
Sabah, Borneo
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Chelicerata
Class: Arachnida
Order: Araneae
Infraorder: Araneomorphae
Family: Pisauridae
Simon, 1890[1]

See text.

47 genera, 355 species

Nursery web spiders are spiders of the family Pisauridae. The members of this family resemble wolf spiders (family Lycosidae), but female nursery web spiders carry their egg sacs by means of their jaws and pedipalps instead of attaching them to their spinnerets. 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 who do not build webs for catching prey. The name "nursery web spider" is especially given to the European species Pisaura mirabilis, but the family also includes fishing spiders and raft spiders. The spider family has a cosmopolitan distribution and occurs throughout the world except in the extremely driest and extremely coldest of environments. Within its range, it is quite common. Adult specimens may reach up to 15mm in length, including legs. The legs of the male are longer in relation to body size than those of the female.[3]

Unlike the wolf spiders, which have two very prominent compound eyes in addition to the other six, the eyes of the nursery web spiders are more or less the same size.[4] Many species are able to walk on the surface of still bodies of water, and may even dive beneath the surface for a time to escape enemies. In escaping predators, they may very well jump a distance of 5–6 inches. However, they do not find it easy to make their way up extremely smooth surfaces such as glass.

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.[5] 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.[6]



As of March 2016, the World Spider Catalog accepted the following extant genera:[1]

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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Family: Pisauridae Simon, 1890". World Spider Catalog. Natural History Museum Bern. Retrieved 2016-03-15.
  2. ^ "Currently valid spider genera and species", World Spider Catalog, Natural History Museum Bern, retrieved 2016-03-15
  3. ^ "Benefits of size dimorphism and copulatory silk wrapping in the sexually cannibalistic nursery web spider, Pisaurina mira". doi:10.1098/rsbl.2015.0957.
  4. ^ Sierwald, P. (1997) Phylogenetic analysis of Pisaurine nursery web spiders, with revisions of Tetragonophthalma and Perenethis (Araneae, Lycosidae, Pisauridae). The Journal of Arachnology 25:361–407
  5. ^ Male Spiders Scam Females with Gift-Wrapped Garbage
  6. ^ 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.
  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.