High Mountain Hunting Spider – Japan Nursery Web Spider Pisauridae

Come meet a wonderful hunting spider of the high mountains of central Japan. Despite my initial confusion, this medium-sized spider is likely a Nursery Web spider (family Pisauridae). These spiders are similar in both appearance and behavior to the more familiar Wolf spider (family Lycosidae). Both the Wolf spider and the Nursery Web spider are active ground predators, adept at running down or ambushing prey on open ground. For this reason the two spider types are sometimes called ‘wandering’ or ‘hunting’ spiders. These spiders are similar in appearance and can be distinguished in the following ways: 1. Wolf spiders have better vision facilitated by two large forward-looking main eyes (all spiders have between six and eight eyes depending upon the species). 2. Wolf spiders carry their eggs under the abdomen while Nursery Web spiders use their palps (appendages near the mouth) to hold their egg sac.

Nursery Web spiders get their name from the fact that the females will place their eggs, just before hatching, in a web-nest they construct for this purpose. The spider mother then remains close by to guard her nest until the young hatch and disburse. Wolf spiders build no such nursery web and will instead carry their eggs until they hatch at which time the baby spiders will remain on the mothers abdomen.

The eyes are a key point in identification as the eyes of a Nursery Web spider are all roughly the same size, whereas the eyes of Wolf spiders include two relatively large eyes (though not as big as those of a jumping spider) directed in a forward-looking manner. Some species of Nursery Web spider are able to walk on water and may use this skill to extend their hunting range or elude predators. A few species can even dive beneath the surface which skill has earned them the name Fishing Spiders. The spider featured in this video was spotted in a wet waterfall grotto located in the cold, high mountains of central Japan. The cold air temperature may help explain its rather slow movements compared to other hunting spiders found in Japan.

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~ by softypapa on April 22, 2010.

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