The families of British spiders


L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


Ground Spiders.

Morphology. The adult spiders 2–18 mm long; slender-bodied to of medium build; decidedly short-legged; with eight eyes. The eyes in two horizontal rows of 4 (the posterior medians usually oval); all clear and glassy. The palpal organs of the male of complex structure and enclosed by the specialized, hollowed tarsal segment (the cymbium). The front legs not short and stout. Metatarsus IV of the females without a calamistrum. Tarsal claws 2. The tarsi with claw tufts. The abdomen conspicuously patterned dorsally, or plain dorsally; with a single, inconspicuous tracheal spiracle. The tracheal spiracles close to the spinnerets. The anterior spinnerets usually wide apart (so that the medians are readily visible). The abdomen of the females without a cribellum. The reproductive openings of the females associated with an epigyne.

The adults constructing neither a terrestrial silken retreat nor an underwater diving-bell; not making snare-webs; actively pursuing their prey (hunting on the ground, mainly feeding on other spiders).

British representation. 33 species in Britain; in the genera Callilepis, Drassodes, Drassyllus, Gnaphosa, Haplodrassus, Micaria, Phaeocedus, Scotophaeus, Trachyzelotes, Urozelotes, and Zelotes.

Comments. The posterior median eyes are usually oval, and the cylindrical, slightly longer anterior spinners are usually separated, so that the median spinners are readily visible; but Scotophaeus and some Zelotes have circular posterior median eyes, and in Micaria the anterior spinners are not separated.

Illustrations. • Zelotes and Drassyllus. • Haplodrassus and Scotophaeus. • Drassodes cupreus, D. lapidosus and Haplodrassus silvestris. • Micaria pulicaria.

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.’.