Temporal range: Cretaceous–present
|Family:|| Theridiidae |
|124 genera, 3028 species|
Theridiidae, also known as the tangle-web spiders, cobweb spiders and comb-footed spiders, is a large family of araneomorph spiders first described by Carl Jakob Sundevall in 1833.This diverse, globally distributed family includes over 3,000 species in 124 genera, and is the most common arthropod found in human dwellings throughout the world.
Theridiid spiders are both entelegyne,meaning that the females have a genital plate, and ecribellate, meaning that they spin sticky capture silk instead of woolly silk. They have a comb of serrated bristles (setae) on the tarsus of the fourth leg.
The family includes some model organisms for research, including the medically important widow spiders. They are important to studies characterizing their venom and its clinical manifestation, but widow spiders are also used in research on spider silk and sexual biology, including sexual cannibalism. Anelosimus are also model organisms, used for the study of sociality, because it has evolved frequently within the genus, allowing comparative studies across species, and because it contains species varying from solitary to permanently social.These spiders are also a promising model for the study of inbreeding because all permanently social species are highly inbred.
The Hawaiian Theridion grallator is used as a model to understand the selective forces and the genetic basis of color polymorphism within species. T. grallator is known as the "happyface" spider, as certain morphs have a pattern uncannily resembling a smiley face or a grinning clown face on their yellow body.
They often build tangle space webs, hence the common name, but Theridiidae has a large diversity of spider web forms.Many trap ants and other ground dwelling insects using elastic, sticky silk trap lines leading to the soil surface. Webs remain in place for extended periods and are expanded and repaired, but no regular pattern of web replacement has been observed.
The well studied kleptoparasitic members of Argyrodinae ( Argyrodes , Faiditus , and Neospintharus ) live in the webs of larger spiders and pilfer small prey caught by their host's web. They eat prey killed by the host spider, consume silk from the host web, and sometimes attack and eat the host itself.
Theridiid gumfoot-webs consist of frame lines that anchor them to surroundings and of support threads, which possess viscid silk. These can either have a central retreat ( Achaearanea -type) or a peripheral retreat (Latrodectus-type).Building gum-foot lines is a unique, stereotyped behaviour, and is likely homologous for Theridiidae and its sister family Nesticidae.
Among webs without gumfooted lines, some contain viscid silk ( Theridion -type) and some that are sheet-like, which do not contain viscid silk ( Coleosoma -type). However, there are many undescribed web forms.
The largest genus is Theridion with over 600 species, but it is not monophyletic. Parasteatoda , previously Achaearanea , is another large genus that includes the North American common house spider. As of April 2019 [update] , the World Spider Catalog accepts the following genera:
About 35 extinct genera have also been placed in the family.
Uloboridae is a family of non-venomous spiders, known as cribellate orb weavers or hackled orb weavers. Their lack of venom glands is a secondarily evolved trait. Instead, they wrap their prey thoroughly in silk, cover it in regurgitated digestive enzymes, and then ingest the liquified body.
Ground spiders comprise Gnaphosidae, the seventh largest spider family with nearly 2,000 described species in over 100 genera distributed worldwide. There are 105 species known to central Europe, and common genera include Gnaphosa, Drassodes, Micaria, Cesonia, Zelotes and many others. They are closely related to Clubionidae. At present, no ground spiders are known to be seriously venomous to humans.
Philodromidae, also known as philodromid crab spiders and running crab spiders, is a family of araneomorph spiders first described by Tord Tamerlan Teodor Thorell in 1870. It contains over 600 species in thirty genera. Most are dull colored- brown, gray, yellowish or mottled with a leaf-like cardiac mark on the anterior dorsal abdomen, and seldom reach above 10 millimetres (0.39 in) long. None of the species build webs, but they do use silk for draglines and egg sacs.
Orb-weaver spiders or araneids are members of the spider family Araneidae. They are the most common group of builders of spiral wheel-shaped webs often found in gardens, fields and forest. "Orb" can in English mean "circular", hence the English name of the group. Araneids have eight similar eyes, hairy or spiny legs, and no stridulating organs.
Oonopidae, also known as is a goblin spiders, is a family of spiders consisting of over 1,600 described species in about 113 genera worldwide, with total species diversity estimated at 2000 to 2500 species. The type genus of the family is OonopsKeyserling, 1835.
Linyphiidae is a family of very small spiders comprising 4631 described species in 614 genera worldwide. This makes Linyphiidae the second largest family of spiders after the Salticidae. The family is poorly known; new genera and species are still being discovered throughout the world. The newest such genus is Yuelushannus from China, formally described in May 2020. Because of the difficulty in identifying such tiny spiders, there are regular changes in taxonomy as species are combined or divided.
Long-jawed orb weavers or long jawed spiders (Tetragnathidae) is a family of araneomorph spiders first described by Anton Menge in 1866. They have elongated bodies, legs, and chelicerae, and build small orb webs with an open hub with few, wide-set radii and spirals with no signal line or retreat. Some species are often found in long vegetation near water.
Scaffold web spiders (Nesticidae) is a family of araneomorph spiders closely allied with tangle web spiders. Like the "Theridiidae", these spiders have a comb of serrated bristles on the hind tarsi that are used to pull silk bands from the spinnerets. It contains 16 genera and about 300 species, many of which are associated with caves or overhangs. The genus Nesticus is the type for the family and is found throughout the world. The related Eidmannella has speciated considerably in Texas caves and includes some extremely localized species that are considered threatened. One species, Eidmannella pallida, is found in caves and under overhangs, but also in agricultural fields and other habitats away from such restricted areas. The genus Carpathonesticus is found in central Eurasia.
The ray spiders (Theridiosomatidae) is a family of spiders first described by Eugène Simon in 1881. They are most recognizable for their construction of cone-shaped webs.
Theridion is a genus of tangle-web spiders with almost 600 described species around the world. Notable species are the Hawaiian happy face spider (T. grallator), named for the iconic symbol on its abdomen, and T. nigroannulatum, one of few spider species that lives in social groups, attacking prey en masse to overwhelm them as a team.
Enoplognatha is a genus of comb-footed spiders that was first described by P. Pavesi in 1880. They have both a large colulus and a subspherical abdomen. Males usually have enlarged chelicerae. It is considered a senior synonym of Symopagia.
Tetragnatha is a genus of long-jawed orb-weavers found all over the world. It was first described by Pierre André Latreille in 1804, and it contains hundreds of species. Most occur in the tropics and subtropics, and many can run over water. They are commonly called stretch spiders in reference to their elongated body form and their ability to hide on blades of grass or similar elongated substrates by stretching their front legs forward and the others behind them. The name Tetragnatha is derived from Greek, tetra- a numerical prefix referring to four and gnatha meaning "jaw". On the Hawaiian islands, a shift of cursorial behavior occurred long ago, when their ancestors first arrived on the island chain.
Anelosimus is a cosmopolitan genus of cobweb spiders (Theridiidae), currently containing 74 species. Anelosimus is a key group in the study of sociality and its evolution in spiders. It contains species spanning the spectrum from solitary to highly social (quasisocial), with eight quasisocial species, far more than any other spider genus. Among these is the South American social species Anelosimus eximius, among the best studied social spider species.
Lasaeola is a genus of comb-footed spiders that was first described by Eugène Louis Simon in 1881. The type species was described under the name Pachydactylus pronus, but was renamed Lasaeola prona when it was discovered that the name "Pachydactylus" was preoccupied. Both this genus and Deliana were removed from the synonymy of Dipoena in 1988, but many of these species require more study before their placement is certain.
Agyneta is a genus of dwarf spiders that was first described by J. E. Hull in 1911.
Dipoena is a genus of tangle-web spiders that was first described by Tamerlan Thorell in 1869.
Leviellus, synonym Stroemiellus, is a genus of orb-weaver spiders first described by J. Wunderlich in 2004.
Neospintharus is a genus of comb-footed spiders that was first described by H. Exline in 1950. It was synonymized with Argyrodes in 1962, but revalidated in 2004.
Thymoites is a genus of comb-footed spiders that was first described by Eugen von Keyserling in 1884.
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