The families of British spiders


L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


Including Zygiella, cf. Platnick 2002.

Orb Weavers.

Morphology. The adult spiders 3–15 mm long; decidedly plump-bodied (females), or of medium build to decidedly plump-bodied (males); decidedly short-legged, or with legs of medium length (occasionally to about 3 times the body length, e.g. in male Zygiella, but mostly less than twice as long); with eight eyes. The eyes in two horizontal rows of 4; all clear and glassy. The maxillae about as long as broad to shorter than broad. The palpal organs of the male of complex structure and enclosed by the specialized, hollowed tarsal segment (the cymbium). The male palps with a well developed paracymbium. The female palps with a claw. Metatarsus IV of the females without a calamistrum. Tarsal claws 3. Tarsus IV without a ventral ‘comb’. The abdomen angular in shape (sometimes, e.g. in Gibbaranea bituberculosa), or smoothly rounded (often much inflated anteriorly); conspicuously patterned dorsally (nearly always), or plain dorsally (e.g., occasionally in male Hypsosinga pygmaea). The abdomen of the females without a cribellum. The reproductive openings of the females associated with an epigyne.

The adults making snare-webs; constructing orb webs (in various habitats, with closed hubs, those of Zygiella with a segment missing).

British representation. 33 species in Britain; in about 15 genera (i.e., with Araneus broken up, and including Zygiella): Agalenatea, Araneus, Araniella, Argiope, Cercidia, Cyclosa, Gibbaranea, Hypsosinga, Larinioides, Mangora, Neoscona, Nuctenea, Singa, Zilla and Zygiella.

Comments. The labium is swollen distally, and the male palp exhibits a paracymbium. The chelicerae lack stridulating ridges, but usually bear a lateral condyle, and their posterior margins bear one or more teeth.

Illustrations. • Araneus diadematus. • Araneus quadratus. • Araneus marmoreus. • Araneus alsine. • Araniella cucurbitina. • Aculepeira ceropegia. • Agalenatea redii. • Araneus sp.. • Cercidia prominens. • Cyclosa conica. • Gibbaranea gibbosa. • Hypsosinga albovittata and H. pygmaea. • Hypsosinga pygmaea, male. • Larinioides cornutus. • Larinioides sclopetarius. • Larinioides patagiatus. • Mangora acalypha. • Neoscona adianta. • Nuctenea umbratica. • Singa hamata. • Zilla diodia. • Zygiella x-notata. • Zygiella atrica.

To view the illustrations with detailed captions, go to the interactive key. This also offers full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting or lacking specified attributes, and distributions of character states within any set of taxa.

Cite this publication as: ‘Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2003 onwards. The families of British spiders. Version: 4th January 2012.’.