- filtered for Bosnia/Herzegowina
Images and Species Descriptions
Text and photographs © 2011 Jørgen Lissner
The Spiders of Europe and Greenland
Family: Thomisidae (Typical Crab Spiders)
Biology: The Thomisidae is the sixth largest spider family of the world encompassing ca 2062 species in 7 subfamilies and 171 genera. They range in size from small to large (2-23 mm body size). Thomisids have sturdy, moderately depressed bodies and strong, laterigrade legs with legs I and II longer than III and IV in most subfamilies. They move around in a characteristic crab-like fashion being capable of walking sideways as well as forwards and backwards. There is a great diversity in colours and forms. Some more brightly coloured species are active during the day. They occupy blossoms or other parts of vegetation where they ambush prey, often pollinators much larger than themselves. Some species are even capable of changing colour over a period of hours to several days to match the colour of the flower petals in which they reside. Other ground and bark living species have markings in grey and brown giving excellent camouflage in these surroundings. Some Ozyptila species are covered by dirt making them very difficult to spot on the ground. They make no prey-catching webs and spin no retreats for moulting, oviposition, or wintering. The first two pairs of legs are used for grabbing the prey when it inattentively have become within grasp. Legs III and IV are provided with scopulae and help to anchor the spider to the substrate during the short struggle with the prey. Once bitten the prey dies within seconds due to the high potency of thomisid venom. Often there is a great disparity in size and colouration between males and females, the males usually being much smaller and darker than the females. The courtship involves the male touching the female in a way that makes her adopt a submissive posture. Females are frequently seen guarding their eggsack.
Characters of family: The thomisids belong to the group of araneomorph, ecribellate spider families having 8 eyes and 2 tarsal claws. The eyes are arranged in two recurved rows of four with the posterior row usually more curved than the anterior row. The median eyes are the smallest, the laterals on confluent tubercles, with the posterior laterals facing somewhat backwards. The secondary eyes are provided with tapetum. Thomisids belong to a morphologically very diverse family of spiders generally characterized by broad, moderately flattened carapace and abdomen. The carapace is about as long as wide being semicircular, ovoid or slightly elongated sometimes with protuberances. Usually, it is thinly covered by a few erect simple or clavate setae sometimes arising from warts. Most species have lateral bands on the carapace; sometimes the bands reach the edge. The sternum is heart-shaped. Chelicerae are relatively small and weak, adapted for quick kills by biting prey in the head. Cheliceral teeth are absent except in one subfamily. Sometimes there are small teeth (denticles) present on promargin. Endites and labium are frequently longer than wide. Legs I and II are longer and sturdier than legs III and IV. Legs articulate in plane of the body (laterigrade legs). The anterior legs are often provided with series of strong spines on tibia and metatarsi (e.g. Xysticus and Ozyptila). The abdomen is variable in shape and colour. It may be round, ovoid or elongate, nearly always widest at rear half. It is often covered by scattered simple setae or clavate hairs. Abdominal colours vary from bright hues of white, yellow, green, and pink to shades of grey and brown in obscure patterns. The anterior spinners are short and conical and situated close together. A colulus is present in front of the spinners. The tracheal spiracle is situated close to the spinners. The epigyne is small and weakly sclerotized in some species. The epigynes of Xysticus species can be highly variable in depth of sclerotization within the same species and females are therefore sometimes difficult to identify by examination of epigynes. The tibia of the male palp is provided with ventral and retrolateral apophyses. Embolus is often long and curved along the rim of the cymbium.
Genus: Thomisus Walckenaer, 1805
Characters of genus: The abdomen is distinctly triangular, truncated at the widest point at the rear . The eyes sits on an anvil shaped protuberance.
Thomisus onustus Walckenaer, 1805
Description: The species is easily identified by the triangular abdomen and the protuberances that carry the lateral eyes. The colour of the female’s abdomen is either white, yellow or pink as in this image. Just like the better-known Misumena vatia the female is able to slowly change her colour to match the colour of the flower or flower heads where she waits for prey, such as pollinators. The male is much smaller and less variable in colour. Size: Female 6-7 mm; male 2.5-3.5 mm. Maturity: Summer. Habitat: Low vegetation with flowers such as meadows and heather. Range: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia/Herzegowina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, France (Corsica), France (Mainland), Germany, Great Britain (Mainland), Greece (Crete), Greece (Cyclades), Greece (Dodecanese Islands), Greece (Mainland), Greece (North Aegean Islands), Hungary, Italy (Mainland), Italy (Sardinia), Italy (Sicily), Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal (Mainland), Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain (Balearic Islands), Spain (Canary Islands), Spain (Mainland), Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, Yugoslavia (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: Palearctic (Platnick 10.0).
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Genus: Xysticus C. L. Koch, 1835 - Ground crab spiders
Characters of genus: These spiders are medium sized and crablike. Most species are in various shades of brown and grey with patterns made of white and yellow blotches and bars. Males are often darker than females and with more vivid tints. The carapace is brownish with central whitish-yellow band enclosing a darker triangle behind the posterior eyes and pointing backwards. The carapace is armed with long black spines which are round, Hereby they differ from the related genus, Ozyptila which have short blunt or clavate spines. The median ocular trapezium forms almost a square or is slightly wider than long. The anterior lateral eyes are clearly larger than the rest, the lateral eyes of both rows on independent tubercles. The abdomen is wider at rear bearing a folium dorsally and usually with white blotches and transverse bars. The legs are short, stout and spiny. Most species ambush prey on low vegetation, while others are found in leaf litter, under stones and bark.
Xysticus cristatus (Clerck, 1757) - Common ground crab spider
Description: The dark triangle on the carapace extends back about two thirds of the length of the carapace from the posterior row of eyes, and ends in a well-defined dark point. The female abdomen is very variable in colouration and markings. Male as female but smaller and darker. Size: Female 6-8 mm; male 3-5 mm. Maturity: Spring and summer. Habitat: Low vegeation and ground level in a variety of situations. Range: Andorra, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia/Herzegowina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, France (Mainland), Germany, Great Britain (Channel Islands), Great Britain (Mainland), Great Britain (Northern Ireland), Greece (Cyclades), Greece (Dodecanese Islands), Greece (Mainland), Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy (Mainland), Italy (Sardinia), Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Macedonia, 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: Palearctic (Platnick 10.0).
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Female with egg sack.
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Xysticus kochi Thorell, 1872
Description: Similar to X. cristatus but the female is mor greyish-brown and the male is almost black. Size: Female 6-8 mm; male 4-5 mm. Maturity: Spring and summer. Habitat: Places with herbage and bushes such as meadows, gardens and parks. Males are sometimes seen crawling on walls in spring in which situation they can be very easy to spot. Range: Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia/Herzegowina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France (Corsica), France (Mainland), Germany, Great Britain (Mainland), Greece (Crete), Greece (Mainland), Hungary, Italy (Mainland), Italy (Sardinia), Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway (Mainland), Poland, Portugal (Mainland), Romania, Russia (Central European), Russia (Eastern European), Russia (Kaliningrad Region), Russia (NW. European), Russia (Southern European), Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain (Mainland), Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, Yugoslavia (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: Europe, Mediterranean to Central Asia (Platnick 10.0).
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Female abdominal markings, light specimen.
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Xysticus sabulosus (Hahn, 1832)
Range: Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia/Herzegowina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France (Corsica), France (Mainland), Germany, Great Britain (Mainland), Great Britain (Northern Ireland), Greece (Dodecanese Islands), Greece (Mainland), Ireland, Italy (Mainland), Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway (Mainland), Poland, Portugal (Mainland), Romania, Russia (Central European), Russia (Eastern European), Russia (Northern European), Russia (NW. European), Russia (Southern European), Slovakia, Spain (Mainland), Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, Yugoslavia (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: Palearctic (Platnick 10.0).
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Female abdominal markings (specimen from Greece).
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Female abdominal markings (light specimen from Greece).
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Xysticus tenebrosus Silhavy, 1944
Range: Bosnia/Herzegowina, Bulgaria, Greece (Crete), Greece (Mainland), Macedonia (van Helsdingen 2009.1). Global range: East Mediterranean (Platnick 10.0).
Female abdomen.
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Female abdominal markings.
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