A candy-striped spider is a medium-sized cobweb spider. Originating in Europe, the species has become part of North America’s natural landscape. It can be found anywhere from Maine and Virginia to Minnesota and Illinois on the East coast, as well as Washington and California to Montana and Colorado in the West.
Candy-striped spider: Description.
The Candy-striped spider can be found in virtually any grassy environment: open fields, forest floors, and roadside ditches alike. However, it is found mainly on the underside of leaves, in brambles, small shrubs, and low-hanging tree branches. When clustered together, these groups are referred to as colonies.
Female Candy-striped spiders measure from 3/16-to-1/4 inch in length and boast a leg span of 1/4 -to-half an inch. Conversely, males are much smaller, with lengths ranging from 1/8 -to-3/16 inches.
The cephalothorax, or front portion of the body, is flat and approximately longer than wide. Its carapace sports a pale yellowish-brown hue with few hairs and an eye-catching longitudinal stripe down the center, and a thin black line on its lateral margins; males feature a more pronounced depression in this area too.
The underside shines bright with yellow to yellowish-brown hues highlighted by dark stripes along its midline while narrow black lines edge out its sides. A stark black tip finishes off the look at the rear end.
Eight eyes, arranged in two equal rows of four each, are aligned perfectly when viewed from the front or top. On each side, lateral eyes brush against one another while the middle pair remains slightly distant. All eight eyes appear tiny and have pearlescent glimmers, except for the dark anterior median ones. Additionally, male chelicerae tend to be larger than females due to their single large tooth on the front margin and small rear-positioned tooth for both sexes.
The Candy-striped spider’s abdomen is a pale yellow with a distinct round, almost spherical shape that appears slightly flattened on the anterior side.
How the candy-striped spider got its name.
The brilliant Candy-striped spider is a polymorphous species with numerous distinct morphs. It was formerly classified as three separate species due to the varying colors and patterns of its abdomen. Still, these have now been identified as simply different forms of one creature. The two red dorsolateral stripes running the underside give it its unique common name, ‘Candy-striped.’ On each form’s undersurface lies an eye-catching dark line encased by white borders that draw attention from afar.
With long, delicate limbs, the first pair being notably longer than all others, no copious amounts of hair or thick spines are found on any segment. At the tip of each hind leg lies a row of 6-10 softly curved bristles – an attribute that has earned this family one of its well-known monikers. Three claws protrude from near the end of each tarsal region, although these cannot be seen with our naked eyesight. The fifth section (femur) also boasts a dark ring around it yet aside from that is left unmarked and unadorned otherwise.
Candy-striped spider: Biology.
The web of the candy-striped spider: A subtle web of threads entwined together, often known as a cobweb, is carefully crafted beneath a leaf. Usually, the edges are slightly tugged down and secured with silken strings to provide an ideal shelter for its inhabitant(s). A curved leaf serves as evidence that something sinister lies hidden underneath it.
During the summer months, Candy-striped spider eggs are encased in a spherical, azure-colored sac which is held within a rolled leaf. The female will guard the egg pouch until it hatches and releases its inhabitants into their second instar stage. Shortly after hatching, these baby spiders disperse from one another to spend their first winter inside leaves lined with silk webbing.
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