- filtered for Bosnia/Herzegowina
Images and Species Descriptions
Text and photographs © 2011 Jørgen Lissner
The Spiders of Europe and Greenland
Family: Theridiidae (Comb-footed Spiders)
Biology: The Theridiidae is the fifth largest spider family of the world encompassing ca 2280 species in 6 subfamilies and 96 genera. They are extremely variable in shape and colouration with some species appearing fairly robust (for example Steatoda) while other delicate (for example thin-legged species such as Ariamnes). They range in size from very small to medium-sized (1-22 mm body size). I consider the fine whip spider Ariamnes (Argyrodes) colubrinus a medium-sized spider despite a body length of 22 mm because of the whip-like, extremely elongated abdomen. Most theridiid species build irregular three-dimensional space webs with criss cross threads. Some species use a retreat, usually placed inside the web. The spider often sits inverted in the web or hidden in the retreat but will run for cover or drop from the web if disturbed. They overpower their prey by wrapping it with sticky silk by activity of the hind legs. These are provided with a comb of serrated bristles, which draw silk from the spinners and fling it over the prey. Only when the prey is securely wrapped in silk does the spider approach to bite. The prey is consumed in the retreat or at the part of the web where the spider usually takes up its position if no retreat is used. The wrapping technique enable theridiids to overpower prey many times their own size. A few species have more or less abandoned web building and live as active hunters at ground level, for example Steatoda phalerata. Some males possess ridges at rear of carapace opposed by teeth under the front end of the abdomen. Rapid movement of the abdomen while scraping the teeth against the ridges produce a sound, which is sometimes audible. The sound is used in courtship along with plucking and tapping the female web with palps and legs. The egg sacks are placed in the web or hidden inside the retreats and guarded by the female. Some females move the egg sacks to different positions during the day to optimize the climatic conditions.
Characters of family: The theridiids belong to a group of araneomorph, ecribellate spider families having 8 eyes and 3 tarsal claws. They are often referred to as comb-footed spiders because tarsus IV of most species possess a row of slightly curved serrated bristles. This comb is visible with a lens in larger species. However, this comb is often difficult to discern in smaller species and males, even under the stereomicroscope. Other important diagnostic characters for the family include that the theridiids do not have the labium rebordered as opposed to the related families Araneidae, Linyphiidae, and Nesticidae. Also, they have few or no spines on their legs. Finally, the male palp is without a conspicuous paracymbium as in the Araneidae, Linyphiidae, Nesticidae, and Tetragnathidae. The carapace is very variable in shape among species, sometimes modified in males in to strange lobes not unlike those seen in the Linyphiidae. A few genera have rugose carapaces due to dense coverage of pits and warts, the latter sometimes hairy (for example Crustulina and Steatoda). In some species the carapace is almost circular and appears small relatively to the size of the abdomen. The clypeus is often very high. The sternum is triangular to shield-shaped (scutiform). It is domed in some species, for example in Theonoe minutissima. The eyes are sometimes subequal and sometimes of very different sizes. They are arranged in 2 rows of 4, the eyes of each row often equidistant. Lateral eyes are often situated close together or contiguous (for example Pholcomma and Theonoe). The secondary eyes are very often provided with a tapetum. The chelicerae are usually small and weak but some species with cheliceral apophyses may have long chelicers. Promargin with few teeth (0-3) while retromargin usually have none. The shape of endites is variable but usually they converge somewhat. The legs are moderately long to very long, lacking spines on femora, tibia, and metatarsus. The female palps possess a claw, which in the Hadrotarsinae subfamily is deeply clefted (palmate). The abdomen is very variable in shape from oval to round, sometimes globular or even higher than long. The abdomen sometimes extends over the posterior part of the carapace. In some species of the Argyrodinae subfamily the abdomen is extremely long and cylindrical. The colouration of the abdomen is also very variable as are the patterns. Some smaller species with unicoloured abdomens may resemble linyphiids. Species with sparsely haired abdomens often appear glossy. Colulus may be large and setose, small (represented just by the setae) or absent. The morphology of the colulus is often an important character in keys for theridiid genera. The tracheal spiracle is situated just in front of the spinners. Theridiids are entelegyne usually with well sclerotized epigynes. Tibia and patella of male palp are without apophyses. The palp does not have a paracymbium - just a hook on distal margin of cymbium serving as a locking device. The anterior edge of the male palpal tibia is often widened and provided with a row of long setae (e.g. in Theridion).
Genus: Latrodectus Walckenaer, 1805
Latrodectus tredecimguttatus (Rossi, 1790)
Range: Bosnia/Herzegowina, Bulgaria, Croatia, France (Corsica), France (Mainland), Greece (Crete), Greece (Dodecanese Islands), Greece (Mainland), Greece (North Aegean Islands), Italy (Mainland), Italy (Sardinia), Italy (Sicily), Macedonia, Portugal (Madeira), Portugal (Mainland), Romania, Russia (Eastern European), Russia (Southern European), Spain (Canary Islands), Spain (Mainland), Ukraine, Yugoslavia? (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: Mediterranean to China (Platnick 10.0).
Genus: Neottiura Menge, 1868
Neottiura herbigrada (Simon, 1873)
Range: Bosnia/Herzegowina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, France (Corsica), France (Mainland), Greece (Crete), Greece (Mainland), Italy (Mainland), Italy (Sardinia), Portugal (Madeira) (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: France, Madeira, to Israel, China, Korea (Platnick 10.0).
Genus: Rhomphaea L. Koch, 1872
Rhomphaea rostrata (Simon, 1873)
Range: Bosnia/Herzegowina, Croatia, France (Corsica), France (Mainland), Portugal (Azores), Portugal (Mainland), Spain (Canary Islands) (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: Mediterranean (Platnick 10.0).
Genus: Robertus O. P.-Cambridge, 1879
Biology: The species live at ground level in detritus, under stones, in moss, leaflitter. Sometimes also under algal upwash and in cracks in the ground.
Characters of genus: The species resemble linyphiids because of the small size of the species and their oval unicoloured abdomens in shades of grey. The head region of the carapace is darker than the thoracic region. The two eye rows are fairly wide with each eye almost contiguous with the corresponding eye of the adjacent row. The abdomen is provided with two or three pairs of pale or reddish sigilla (dots marking points of internal muscle attachments). Legs are relatively short and differ from those of the linyphiids by possessing a comb on tarsi IV and by the tarsi being darker than femora.
Robertus mediterraneus Eskov, 1987
Range: Bosnia/Herzegowina, Bulgaria, France (Mainland), Greece (Mainland), Italy (Mainland), Romania, Switzerland, Yugoslavia (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: Mediterranean, Russia (Platnick 10.0).