- filtered for Greece (Crete)
Images and Species Descriptions
Text and photographs © 2011 Jørgen Lissner
The Spiders of Europe and Greenland
Family: Linyphiidae (Line Weaving Spiders)
Biology: The Linyphiidae is the worlds second largest spider family encompassing ca. 4320 species in more than 570 genera. The highest diversity is found in the northern temperate regions. In these regions as well as in the arctic regions spiders of this family dominates the spider fauna. The jumping spiders (Salticidae) is an even larger family but they generally require warmer conditions than the linyphiids and for this reason they are less well represented in the cooler regions. Linyphiids are found worldwide in all terrestrial biotopes and is perhaps the most widely distributed spider family. They range in size from very small to medium (1-8.5 mm body size). Most species are found at ground level but they occupy a very wide array of habitats. The members of the family build a sheet web sometimes dome shaped. The web has no retreat and the spider always hang inverted below the sheet. Larger species in particular sometimes add irregular vertical snares acting both as sheet suspension strands and barrage balloon wires impeding the flight of insects. When insects strike the vertical snares they fall down on the sheet and the spider rush to bite the prey through the sheet web. Many species disperse by air and the phenomenon of ballooning is very noticeable in this family when very dense populations try to balloon at the same time. The spiders climb up high in the vegetation and point the spinners toward the sky. In this position they let out some strands of silk and eventually the wind will lift the spiders up in the air. Often they only manage to fly a short distance but they will keep trying sometimes resulting in a layer of shimmering silk covering the vegetation. Ballooning takes place usually in late summer. Ballooning may result in spiders literally raining from the sky. Erigone atra is a very common aeronaut in late summer in some areas and on several occasions I have experienced specimens landing in my hair at short intervals, for example while I was sitting in my garden.
Characters of family: The linyphiids belong to the group of ecribellate spider families having 8 eyes and 3 tarsal claws. The eyes are arranged in 2 rows of 4, usually heterogeneous in size with the anterior medials smaller than the rest. Frequently, the eyes are ringed with black, this being most noticeable in species with lighter coloured carapaces such as many species of the Linyphiinae subfamily. Some species adapted to dark habitats have the eyes much reduced, sometimes being very minute in size or only evidenced by pale markings under the integument (e.g. Porrhomma rosenhauri). The carapace is highly variable especially in the smaller species belonging to the Erigoninae subfamily. Males of this large subfamily frequently have the frontal region modified into strangely formed lobes or bear other types of protuberances some of which may have tufts of hairs. Some species have the carapace punctured with pits (see images of Lophomma punctatum). The males may also have sulci (grooves) running backwards from the posterior eyes. The chelicerae do not possess a lateral condyle (boss at base of chelicer). The outer side of the chelicerae have horizontal stridulating ridges visible in many species. Such ridges only occur scattered in other spider families (see for example images of ridges in Metellina stridulans of the Tetragnathidae). The labium is strongly rebordered as in the Nesticidae, Araneidae, and Tetragnathidae. The endites are usually parallel. Legs are slender and provided with spines. The number of spines on the legs is an important character for species identification when this is undertaken using the stereomicroscope. The abdomen is nearly always longer than wide sometimes with a pattern (Linyphiinae in particular) and sometimes mainly uniformly coloured, very often blackish (Erigoninae in particular). Some species posses an abdominal scutum as for example some members of the Ceratinella genus. The epigynes are variable, sometimes simple as in the Erigoninae or provided with a scapus as often seen in the Linyphiinae. The male palp often possesses an U-shaped paracymbium. The family was earlier divided in to two subfamilies, which sometimes were elevated to family status: the Linyphiidae and Erigonidae (also known as Micryphantidae). The Linyphiidae was characterized by not having tibial apophyses on the male palp, by having a claw on the female palp in most species, and by having two dorsal spines on tibia IV or if only one spine present there was one short spine on metatarsi I and II. The Erigonidae was characterized by having at least one tibial apophyses on the male palp, by lacking a claw on the female palp, and by having just a single dorsal spine on tibia IV and with the metatarsi spineless, or all spines lacking altogether. However, the family is now divided in to seven subfamilies, the Dubiaraneinae, Erigoninae, Ipainae, Linyphiinae, Micronetinae, Mynogleninae, and Stemonyphantinae. Consult recent literature or Wikipedia for lists of subfamily genera. See also Linyphiid Spiders Of The World by Andrei Tanasevitch and LinyGen: Linyphioid Genera of the World (Pimoidae and Linyphiidae) by Gustavo Hormiga, Dimitar Dimitrov, Jeremy A. Miller and Fernando Alvarez-Padilla.
Genus: Alioranus Simon, 1926
Alioranus pastoralis (O. P.-Cambridge, 1872)
Range: Cyprus, Greece (Crete) (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: Crete, Cyprus, Israel, Tajikistan (Platnick 10.0).
Genus: Frontinellina van Helsdingen, 1969
Frontinellina frutetorum (C. L. Koch, 1834)
Range: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France (Corsica), France (Mainland), Germany, Great Britain (Mainland), Greece (Crete), Greece (Mainland), Greece (North Aegean Islands), Hungary, Italy (Mainland), Italy (Sardinia), Italy (Sicily), Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Poland, Portugal (Mainland), Romania, Russia (Central European), Russia (Eastern European), Russia (Southern European), Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain (Mainland), Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, Yugoslavia (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: Palearctic (Platnick 10.0).
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Genus: Lepthyphantes Menge, 1866
Biology: Due to the high number of species in this genus (formerly almost 400) many former Lepthyphantes species have been grouped in to new genera mainly based on small details in the copulatory organs. Saaristo & Tanasevitch (1996) limit the genus to only five species of which only two are European, but this is apparently not followed by Platnick.
Characters of genus: Medium to large linyphiids ranging form 2.5 to 4.5 mm body length (Saaristo & Tanasevitch 1996). Legs clearly annulated in European species. Tm IV without trichobothrium. Abdomen with a distinct pattern, usually composed of broad black transverse markings formed as bars, bands or chevrons on a grey background. Abdomens may be dotted with some whitish spots. Males are characterized by the sickle-shaped embolus with tight sulcus and large carina (not visible with a hand lens). Epigynes wit large scape arising from the inside of the epigynal cavity. Note that there is some disagreements on the delineation of the genus. The genus description here is based on a narrow conception as given by Saaristo & Tanasevitch (1996).
Lepthyphantes beroni Deltshev, 1979
Range: Greece (Crete) (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: Greece (Platnick 10.0).
Lepthyphantes beshkovi Deltshev, 1979
Range: Greece (Crete) (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: Crete (Platnick 10.0).
Lepthyphantes brignolianus Deltshev, 1979
Range: Greece (Crete) (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: Crete (Platnick 10.0).
Lepthyphantes kratochvili Fage, 1945
Range: Greece (Crete) (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: Crete (Platnick 10.0).
Genus: Microlinyphia Gerhardt, 1928
Characters of genus: Medium sized spiders 2.8-4.6 mm, larger species are found outside Europe (van Helsdingen 1970). This species displays a large sexual dimorphism. Cephalothorax of male is longer and narrower than in female. Abdomen tubular in male and usually dark while more oblong and lighter coloured in females. Posterior medial eyes on black tubercles. Lateral eyes contiguous. Legs long and slender, most noticeable in males. Embolus long and thread-like in European species, easily visible with a lens. The chelicerae in males are long, more than half the length of the cephalothorax and inclined somewhat backwards. The epigyne is small, inconspicuous and consists of an arch anterior to the openings and a small scape-like protrusion. The arch is dark and barely more sclerotized than surrounding area.
Microlinyphia pusilla (Sundevall, 1830)
Description: Male: Carapace brown to dark brown. Legs yellow-brown without annulations but with blackish streaks on basal half of femora in dark specimens. Abdomen tubular, dark brown with one pair of white spots anteriorly (rarely two pairs). The male palp has a large looped embolus which in lateral view encircle an area about twice as big as that covered by the palpal organs. Female: Cephalothorax less elongate than in male and brown. Abdomen is shorter and higher compared to males, ovoid in dorsal view. Ventral surface of lateral and posterior surface as well as ventral surface dark brown or blackish. Dorsally light coloured with a broad dark brown median band broken posteriorly in dark spots, the first being diamond shaped. Size: Female 3-5 mm; male 3-4 mm. Range: Andorra, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, France (Corsica), France (Mainland), Germany, Great Britain (Mainland), Great Britain (Northern Ireland), Greece (Crete), Greece (Mainland), Hungary, Ireland, Italy (Mainland), Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway (Mainland), Poland, Portugal (Mainland), Romania, Russia (Central European), Russia (Eastern European), Russia (Kaliningrad Region), Russia (Northern European), Russia (NW. European), Russia (Southern European), Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain (Mainland), Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, Yugoslavia (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: Holarctic (Platnick 10.0).
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Genus: Palliduphantes Saaristo & Tanasevitch, 2001
Biology: Pale coloured spiders, mostly more or less cavernicolous in lifestyle. The genus incorporates a group of former Lepthyphantes species now reclassified to the new Palliduphantes genus based on synapomorphies of the secondary genital organs (Saaristo & Tanasevitch 2001). The males of the species share some special characters including similar shaped paracymbia which are large and tub-like. Also the lamella of the palps and the epigynes share similarities, the epigynes having a very characteristic appearance in dorsal view (see Saaristo & Tanasevitch 2001 for more details on diagnostic characters). The genus is subdivided in to eight species groups bases on the morphology of the secondary genital organs (Saaristo & Tanasevitch 2001)
Characters of genus: Small to medium sized linyphiids having body lengths ranging from 1.30-2.95 mm, but species larger than 2.5 mm are few (Saaristo & Tanasevitch 2001). Pale coloured spiders, the cephalothorax and appendages range in colour from pale yellow to pale orange and the unicoloured abdomen from pale yellow to grey or greyish brown, sometimes with a greenish tinge or a faint pattern of transverse stripes or chevrons. Legs with few spines. Metatarsus IV is without a trichobotrium.
Palliduphantes byzantinus (Fage, 1931)
Range: Bulgaria, Greece (Crete), Greece (Cyclades), Greece (Dodecanese Islands), Greece (Mainland), Macedonia, Romania (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey (Platnick 10.0).
Palliduphantes malickyi (Wunderlich, 1980)
Range: Greece (Crete) (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: Crete (Platnick 10.0).
Genus: Pelecopsis Simon, 1864
Pelecopsis inedita (O. P.-Cambridge, 1875)
Range: France (Corsica), France (Mainland), Greece (Crete), Italy (Mainland), Malta, Portugal (Mainland) (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: Mediterranean (Platnick 10.0).
Genus: Savignia Blackwall, 1833
Characters of genus: The Savignia species group was redefined by Millidge (1977) as the original description by Blackwall (1833) only accommodated one species Savignia frontata which erroneously was grouped with six-eyed spiders. A number of new species have been assigned to this genus in recent years (The World Spider Catalog by Platnick). The genus is closely related to Diplocephalus and other genera with similar structures of genitals and it has been proposed to merge these genera (Millidge 1997). However, Eskov (1988) on the other hand would like to limit Savignia to species with T-shaped embolic division and an embolus which is slightly curved and directed backwards (Bosselaers & Henderickx 2002).
Savignia fronticornis (Simon, 1884)
Range: France (Mainland), Greece (Crete), Spain (Mainland) (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: Mediterranean (Platnick 10.0).
Savignia naniplopi Bosselaers & Henderickx, 2002
Range: Greece (Crete) (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: Crete (Platnick 10.0).
Genus: Sintula Simon, 1884
Sintula cretaensis Wunderlich, 1995
Range: Greece (Crete) (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: Crete (Platnick 10.0).
Genus: Walckenaeria Blackwall, 1833
Characters of genus: The members of this genus range in size from 1.35 to 4.0 mm (Millidge 1983). The male carapace in most European species is elevated, often into large lobes or modified in some other way. However, in a few species such as in W. dysderoides the male head is only slightly domed behind the eyes. Where there is a lobe this carries the posterior median eyes (Millidge 1983). In other species the male carapaces carries a projection, often furnished with hairs which may be clavate or furcated. More rarely is the carapace of the female elevated, such as in W. acuminata which carries a conical elevation. The sternum is longer than wide with the posterior end pointed between coxae IV (Locket & Millidge 1953). The pedicel is distinctly sclerotized and is quite conspicuous in some species. The abdomen is without a scutum and is unicoloured in most species, usually greyish black but occasionally light grey or yellowish brown. Tibia I and II carries two spines while III and IV carries one in the European species. Legs are unicoloured in most species, often bright orange or reddish orange. Some species have contrastingly blackened tibiae on anterior leg pairs. Spines are weak, particularly on legs I and II in males (Millidge 1983). All metatarsi with a trichobothrium, Tm I variable, ranging from 0.39-0.76 in British species (Roberts 1987). The male palpal organs are of similar form and differences are not discernible with a hand lens. Females of a few species possess characteristic epigynes which makes them identifiable in the field using a hand lens. Other characteristics of the genus (not visible with a lens) include the strongly pectinate and large superior tarsal claws of legs I and II, clear transverse striae on the lateral faces of the chelicerae and the acuminate tarsus of the female palp (Locket & Millidge 1953, Millidge 1983). The European members of the genus have been reviewed by Wunderlich (1972) and the North American by Millidge (1983).
Walckenaeria clavicornis (Emerton, 1882)
Description: Carapace brownish, usually fairly dark brown with faint darker striae. The male carapace modified by possessing a small upward directed protuberance slightly bifurcate distally. Legs orange to orange brown. Tm I 0.5-0.56 (Roberts 1987). Abdomen grey to black. Size: Female 2.4-2.7 mm; male 2.1-2.4 mm. Range: Austria, Faroe Islands, Finland, Great Britain (Mainland), Great Britain (Northern Ireland), Greece (Crete), Iceland, Ireland, Italy (Mainland), Liechtenstein, Norway (Mainland), Norway (Svalbard & Jan Mayen), Russia (Northern European), Russia (Novaya Zemlya)?, Sweden, Switzerland (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Also known from Greenland (Masurik in prep.). Global range: Holarctic (Platnick 10.0).
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Walckenaeria corniculans (O. P.-Cambridge, 1875)
Range: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, France (Mainland), Germany, Great Britain (Channel Islands), Great Britain (Mainland), Greece (Crete), Hungary, Ireland, Italy (Mainland), Latvia, Liechtenstein, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal (Mainland), Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain (Balearic Islands), Spain (Mainland), Switzerland, Yugoslavia (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: Europe, North Africa (Platnick 10.0).
Walckenaeria gomerensis Wunderlich, 1987
Range: Greece (Crete), Spain (Canary Islands) (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: Canary Is (Platnick 10.0).