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Images and Species Descriptions
Text and photographs © 2011 Jørgen Lissner
The Spiders of Europe and Greenland
Family: Atypidae (Purse-Web Weavers)
Biology: Mygalomorph spiders living inside silklined tubular web of which about two thirds is buried in the ground. The aboveground part is covered with fine particles such as sand and dirt.
Genus: Atypus Latreille, 1804
Characters of genus: Large forward projecting chelicerae. Sternum is fused with labium. Six spinnerets, the posterior pair is composed of three segments. The relative lengths of the segments is a character useful for separating the three European species. Atypus affinis is the only orthognath species occurring in Denmark.
Atypus affinis Eichwald, 1830
Description: The female is medium-sized, having stout legs and with brown cephalothorax and reddish-brown abdomen. Chelicerae prominent and projecting forward. Male is smaller and darker. Abdomen with dorsal scutum. The three segments of the posterior spinners are almost equal in length.The Purse-web Spider has a long lifespan with females living for as much as 7-10 years, males somewhat shorter, about 4 years. Size: Female 13-22 mm; male 10-12 mm. Maturity: Females adult throughout year, males in autumn. Habitat: South facing slopes with low vegetation, typically patchy heather. Also steep coastal slopes with sliding vegetation. Range: Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia/Herzegowina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France (Mainland), Germany, Great Britain (Channel Islands), Great Britain (Mainland), Hungary, Ireland, Italy (Mainland), Macedonia, Moldova, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal (Mainland), Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain (Mainland), Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, Yugoslavia (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: Britain to Ukraine, North Africa (Platnick 10.0).
Excavated web.
Female. Posterior spinners.
Female. Eyegroup and forward projecting chelicerae.
Dorsal view of female carapace.
Sucked out male, likely eaten by the female and ejected from the silk tube.
Atypus piceus (Sulzer, 1776)
Description: The females are darker than the females of A. affinis, but otherwise similar. The males are likewise darker than A. affinis males, almost black. The apical segment of the posterior pair of spinnerets is longer than the combined lengths of the two basal segments. Size: Female 10 mm; male 9 mm. Maturity: In France, I have observed adult males at midsummer. Adult females can be found throughout the year. Habitat: Similar to A. affinis. Range: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France (Mainland), Germany, Greece (Mainland), Hungary, Italy (Mainland), Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Moldova, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia (Central European), Russia (Eastern European)?, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Ukraine?, Yugoslavia (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: Europe to Moldavia, Iran (Platnick 10.0).