Female ? mm; male ? mm.
Characters of genus:
The members of this genus range in size from 1.35 to 4.0 mm (Millidge 1983). The male carapace in most European species is elevated, often into large lobes or modified in some other way. However, in a few species such as in
the male head is only slightly domed behind the eyes. Where there is a lobe this carries the posterior median eyes (Millidge 1983). In other species the male carapaces carries a projection, often furnished with hairs which may be clavate or furcated. More rarely is the carapace of the female elevated, such as in
which carries a conical elevation. The sternum is longer than wide with the posterior end pointed between coxae IV (Locket & Millidge 1953). The
is distinctly sclerotized and is quite conspicuous in some species. The abdomen is without a scutum and is unicoloured in most species, usually greyish black but occasionally light grey or yellowish brown. Tibia I and II carries two spines while III and IV carries one in the European species. Legs are unicoloured in most species, often bright orange or reddish orange. Some species have contrastingly blackened tibiae on anterior leg pairs. Spines are weak, particularly on legs I and II in males (Millidge 1983). All metatarsi with a trichobothrium, Tm I variable, ranging from 0.39-0.76 in British species (Roberts 1987). The male palpal organs are of similar form and differences are not discernible with a hand lens. Females of a few species possess characteristic epigynes which makes them identifiable in the field using a hand lens. Other characteristics of the genus (not visible with a lens) include the strongly pectinate and large superior tarsal claws of legs I and II, clear transverse striae on the lateral faces of the chelicerae and the acuminate tarsus of the female palp (Locket & Millidge 1953, Millidge 1983). The European members of the genus have been reviewed by Wunderlich (1972) and the North American by Millidge (1983).
Blackwall, 1859 (Line Weaving Spiders).
Characters of family:
The linyphiids belong to the group of ecribellate spider families having 8 eyes and 3 tarsal claws. The eyes are arranged in 2 rows of 4, usually heterogeneous in size with the anterior medials smaller than the rest. Frequently, the eyes are ringed with black, this being most noticeable in species with lighter coloured carapaces such as many species of the Linyphiinae subfamily. Some species adapted to dark habitats have the eyes much reduced, sometimes being very minute in size or only evidenced by pale markings under the integument (e.g.
). The carapace is highly variable especially in the smaller species belonging to the Erigoninae subfamily. Males of this large subfamily frequently have the frontal region modified into strangely formed lobes or bear other types of protuberances some of which may have tufts of hairs. Some species have the carapace punctured with pits (see images of
). The males may also have sulci (grooves) running backwards from the posterior eyes. The chelicerae do not possess a lateral condyle (boss at base of chelicer). The outer side of the chelicerae have horizontal stridulating ridges visible in many species. Such ridges only occur scattered in other spider families (see for example images of ridges in
of the Tetragnathidae). The labium is strongly rebordered as in the Nesticidae, Araneidae, and Tetragnathidae. The endites are usually parallel. Legs are slender and provided with spines. The number of spines on the legs is an important character for species identification when this is undertaken using the stereomicroscope. The abdomen is nearly always longer than wide sometimes with a pattern (Linyphiinae in particular) and sometimes mainly uniformly coloured, very often blackish (Erigoninae in particular). Some species posses an abdominal scutum as for example some members of the
genus. The epigynes are variable, sometimes simple as in the Erigoninae or provided with a scapus as often seen in the Linyphiinae. The male palp often possesses an U-shaped paracymbium. The family was earlier divided in to two subfamilies, which sometimes were elevated to family status: the Linyphiidae and Erigonidae (also known as Micryphantidae). The Linyphiidae was characterized by not having tibial apophyses on the male palp, by having a claw on the female palp in most species, and by having two dorsal spines on tibia IV or if only one spine present there was one short spine on metatarsi I and II. The Erigonidae was characterized by having at least one tibial apophyses on the male palp, by lacking a claw on the female palp, and by having just a single dorsal spine on tibia IV and with the metatarsi spineless, or all spines lacking altogether. However, the family is now divided in to seven subfamilies, the Dubiaraneinae, Erigoninae, Ipainae, Linyphiinae, Micronetinae, Mynogleninae, and Stemonyphantinae. Consult recent literature or Wikipedia for lists of subfamily genera. See also
Linyphiid Spiders Of The World
by Andrei Tanasevitch and
LinyGen: Linyphioid Genera of the World (Pimoidae and Linyphiidae)
by Gustavo Hormiga, Dimitar Dimitrov, Jeremy A. Miller and Fernando Alvarez-Padilla.
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Danish Spiders from A to Z