Lady bird spiders, velvet spiders

Family Eresidae

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Genus Eresus

Only two species of this family are found in NW-Europe. The name 'lady bird' spider relates to the beautiful coloured adult male.
Formerly Eresus cinnaberinus was known under the name Eresus niger. Eresus sandaliatus is a similar looking spider and is found in the Northern parts of Europe. The third and fourth pair of legs is not coloured red but are similar to the first and second pairs, black with white rings.

The female measures 15 - 20 mm and the male around 10 mm. The spider makes a tube of silk in the ground and with a roof of cribellate silk on the ground. The female and the not adult males are coloured black and velvet. The male spider gets coloured at his last change of skin.
The male becomes adult in the autumn or in spring. Then he leaves its home and starts wandering looking for a female. Females can become four years old and never leaves her tube.
The spider makes one cocoon with eggs. At daytime they bring out their cocoon and let it warm in the sun. At night the cocoon is return in the hiding. The young spiders stay in the housing tube during the winter and stay with their mother for quite a long time. During this time they may change skin for six times. In spring the mother dies and is consumed by the young spiders.
This spider is very rare and protected in some countries.
Their habitat is often found on south-faced, sheltered, heathery slopes.


Adapted drawing from I. Hughes uit "The Ladybird spider rearing project", Int. Zoo Yb. 1998
Four web entrances between the grass
Dissected living tube
Eresus sandaliatus female Eresus sandaliatus female
Eresus sandaliatus female Eresus sandaliatus female
Eresus sandaliatus male Eresus sandaliatus male

Eresus cinnaberinus

Eresus sandaliatus with black white ringed hind legs Eresus cinnaberinus by by Ingmar Tonnby, Abruzzo, Italy (note the red hind legs)
Eresus sandaliatus? with white/black hind legs from Crete, Greece by Dimitris Tzortzakis
Eresus sandaliatus by Jeroen van Leeuwen, National park De Hoge Veluwe, The Netherlands
Eresus cinnaberinus by Allessandro Cagnolati, Rome Italy

This female was found near Mistras in the Peloponnesus in Greece. The females size is about 40 mm while the male is much smaller with its size between 8 -11 mm.

Eresus walckenaerius, female.  
Eresus ruficapillus Eresus ruficapillus?
Eresus ruficapillus? (Female, body 50 mm) On Lefkas, Greece by Ruud Vree Eresus ruficapillus? On Lefkas, Greece by Ruud Vree

Eresus ZZ295 Gran Alicante Spain by Hugh Griffiths.
Eresus albopictus is the closest match of this spider living in Northern Africa. It has also been found in Murcia, Punta Bela - Bolnuevo - Mazarrón. So it seems to become more common in SE Spain.


Genus Loureedia

Only one species in this new genus named after Lou Reed. The spider occurs from Israel to Libya, The built a simples silken lined burrow sealed with a silken roof often covered with remains of their prey. signaling threads radiate from the roof. Males can be found outside their burrow in late autumn searching for a female. Juveniles feed on the mother and leave the burrow. Males need 3 years to mature, females 4 years

Loureedia annulipes Male Loureedia annulipes found at the roman ruins at Sbietla,Tunisia November 2005 by Rune Wiggen. His size was between 20 and 30 mm.
Loureedia annulipes
Loureedia annulipes

Loureedia annulipes From Surman, Libya, Osama O. Etewish found Loureedia annulipes in the garden.  

Loureedia annulipes
 Loureedia annulipes
Loureedia annulipes  

Genus Stegodyphus

This genus contains social spiders. This is rare in spiders, most spiders are solitaire. Only 20 -30 species of the known 40000 spider species are considered social. An example is Phryganoporus candidus from Australia.
 These social spiders make large webs of silk, plant debris and remains of their prey on with they live and feed happily together. The web has large sheets of silk extending in several directions. the colonies may exist for up to eight years. Mating of many species occur between December and February. The female / male ratio is more than 4:1 in social species.
The solitary species make irregular cribellate webs with a funnel-like retreat.
The Stegodyphus genus contains 20 species and they can be found can be found in Africa, southern Europe and Asia and a single species in Brazil
Stegodyphus lineatus Stegodyphus lineatus
Stegodyphus lineatus (Tioute, S Marocco) Stegodyphus lineatus  (Tioute, S Marocco)

 

Literature: The velvet spiders: an atlas of the Eresidae (Arachnida, Araneae), Jeremy A. Miller et al., Zookeys. 2012; (195): 1144

 

Ed Nieuwenhuys, 15 January 2013
22 December 2012, 8 September 2010, 28 June 2010, May 23, 2008, 20 January 2007, 14 January 2007, 2 April 2006