Family: Pisauridae (nursery web or fishing spiders)

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Ecdysozoa > Panarthropoda > Tritocerebra > Arthropoda > Arachnomorpha > Cheliceriformes > Chelicerata > Euchelicerata > Arachnida > Araneae > Araneomorpha

In South Africa the Pisauridae include 14 genera, most of which are diurnal. Some are web-bound and some not although they are all three clawed spiders. The webs of the web bound species have no capture ability and the spiders rely on speed to capture their prey. They are harmless to man.

Pisauridae is Latin, derived from an old Italian Town "Pisaurum".

The family consists of two subfamilies. the Pisaurinae, or nursery web spiders, with 12 genera indigenous to southern Africa, and  the Thalassinae, which includes the larger fishing spiders in the genera Dolomedes and Thalassius.

Pisaurids are medium to very large arboreal-, terrestrial- or water-associated spiders, ranging from 8 to 30 mm. The carapace is longer than wide with the elongated abdomen tapering posteriorly. The legs are relatively long and slender with numerous spines and depending on the genus, are held forward and backward or latrigrade. The integument is normally coloured in various shades of brown with lateral creamish bands on the carapace that may extend along the abdomen. On some, the abdomen may be marked with spots or have a folium (leaf-like marking). Others may have a lightish (brown, grey or cream) median band running dorsally along both its carapace and abdomen.

All pisaurids construct a round white egg case that is carried under the sternum held in the chelicerae (jaws). This causes them to assume a tiptoe stance. Just before the eggs are due to hatch, the female constructs a nursery web around the egg case. This is attached to the vegetation with a supporting web around it. The spiderlings leave the nursery after one or two moults.

There has been numerous publications on the biology of fishing spiders but little is known about the nursery web spiders with conflicting statements about whether they are web bound or active cursorial hunters.

Genera indigenous to southern Africa

Subfamily: Pisaurinae (nursery web spiders)

 
 

Afropisaura

 
 

Charminus

 
  Chiasmopes  
  Cispius

Rothus and Cispius are two terrestrial genera that actively pursue prey, Cispius often using its leaping powers to jump onto its prey. These spiders are typically marked with lateral bands at least on the carapace and have numerous spines on the long legs to aid with prey capture.

 

  Euprosthenops
  Euprosthenopsis  
 

Maypacius

 
 

Perenethis

 
  Rothus  

Rothus and Cispius are two terrestrial genera that actively pursue prey, Cispius often using its leaping powers to jump onto its prey. These spiders are typically marked with lateral bands at least on the carapace and have numerous spines on the long legs to aid with prey capture.

 
 

Tapinothelella

 
 

Tetragonophthalma

 
 

Walrencea

 

Subfamily: Thalassinae (fishing spiders)

 
 

Dolomedes

 
  Thalassius

 

Text and images by Norman Larsen .


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