Sheet web spiders

Family Linyphiidae Home <------


Linyphia triangularis

This is a very large family with more than 4289 species (June 2004) in 540 genera worldwide. In our region there are more than 300 species. Most of them are too small to recognize in the field.

Most of the spiders of this family weave sheet like webs and the spider hangs under the web. Above the sheets the spider inserts scaffolding of threads. Insects fly against these strands and falls onto the web where they are caught. The spider bites through the web to paralyze her prey.
They are referred too as dwarf spiders. In the British Isles, they are called money spiders.

Nearly half of the spiders in Europe are member of this family. Their size is between 4 - 10 mm. Most of them have dark colours.

Members of this family occupy almost every spot on the world, from the Himalaya to beaches, from Antarctica to the tropical forests.
They reach these places because the spiders can fly by wire, called "ballooning". The spider raises her abdomen and releases a thread in the breeze that grows longer and longer until the upward lift is sufficient and the spider is lifted. They can reach heights of up to 10000 meter and are transported to every spot on the world. They are often one of the first inhabitants of a devastated area like after the eruption of the Krakatau in August 1883. In May 1884 scientist already reported microscopic spiders spinning their webs.
Gossamer is connected with ballooning and the word comes from "goose summer". It is the moment that millions of spiders are taking off or landing.

Frontinellina frutetorum


Genus Drapetisca

The only European sort makes very fine vertical webs on the bark of trees. These webs are about 40 * 60 mm large.

Drapetisca socialis is variable in colour and is characterized by its pink colour. In industrialized areas the abdomen may be blacker. It can be found on the barks of especially pines and beeches.

 

All pictures Drapetisca socialis

 

Genus Erigone Dwarf spiders --> See here


Genus Floronia

The only species in Northern-Europe in this genus. The spider spins her horizontal sheet web on low vegetation.
Characteristic for the female spider in this genus is the high abdomen compared to the length.
Males are similar in appearance but their abdomen is less high.
The spiders measures 4-5 mm.

Floronia bucculenta

Floronia bucculenta
Floronia bucculenta picture by Pascal van Acker  

Genus Frontinellina

 

This is a common sheet web spider and is easily spotted because this is one of the larger spiders in this family. Male and female spider are around 5 mm large.
the back of the spider resembles Microlinyphia pusilla and Neriene peltata.
Characteristic for this spider are the two or three yellow stripes on her sides and the fact the spider has an abdomen that, when viewed from the side, is higher at the end.
In the USA a related spider is called 'bowl and doily spider'.

Frontinellina frutetorumFrontinellina frutetorum

male

Genus Hypselistes

Hypselistes jacksoni

A small spider of 3-4 mm that is already active in winter when temperatures rise.

male
female

Genus Lepthyphantes

 

With around fifty species this is a large genus. Some of these spiders are very common. The abdomen tends to be rather pointed at the end. All members are very small with a length between 1.5 and 5 mm.

Lepthyphantes tenuis
  Lepthyphantes tenuis foto door Bart Vancoppenolle

The genera Linyphia, Microlinyphia, Neriene and Frontinellina construct a web with a horizontal mat under which the spider hangs upside down.
The sheet hangs on randomly spinned vertical threads. Insect flying against these threads tumble down on the horizontal sheet web and are caught by the spider.

Genus Linyphia

Linyphia hortensis
Linyphia hortensis? Linyphia hortensis

Linyphia triangularis
   

Pityohyphantes phrygianus

Pityohyphantes phrygianus


Genus Microlinyphia

Two species are described in our region. Males have a tubular black abdomen with sometimes two white spots at the front end

Microlinyphia pusilla? male Microlinyphia pusilla? male
 
Microlinyphia pusilla? juvenile  

Genus Neriene

Neriene montana female
Neriene montana male Neriene montana female

Neriena peltata female Neriena peltata male

Some undetermined Linyphids

Linyphid ZZ405 Linyphid ZZ405
Linyphid ZZ403 Linyphid ZZ403

 

Ed Nieuwenhuys, 7 march 2010
24 March 2009, 20 sept 2006, 20 August 2006, December 22, 2005