Scytodidae spiders catch
their prey by spitting a fluid that congeals on contact into a venomous
and sticky mass.
There are 5 genus of
spiders in the family Scytodidae:
Spitting spiders have 6 eyes and are slow
moving. They are usually fairly easy to identify by their large round
cephalothorax and their long, thin legs.
It is also called 'spitting spider' because it spits a poisonous sticky
silken substance over its prey. Its size ranges between 3 - 6 mm.
The spitting spider belongs to the family of six-eyed spiders (Haplogynae)
and stands out as one of a kind among the spider population. Contrary to
most spiders its head-breast part is much larger than its abdomen as well
as the head-breast part has a circular shape and is much higher at the end
compared to the front.
Its poison jaws, located at its head, are extremely small with two
relatively large openings in its poison fangs. Its light brown body with
black spots resembles that of a panther. The spider has very long legs
with black rings.
What makes spitting spider so special is the presence of silk glands in
its head-breast part! Besides the silk glands in its abdomen, the spider
also has silk glands connected with its poison glands. In this way the
spiders has the ability to make poisonous silk. Other Arachnidae (spider
like creatures with eight legs) may also have silk glands in their
head-breast part like the pseudo-scorpions.
Contrary to the pseudo-scorpions that use the silk from the head-breast
glands to make nests, 'Spitting spider' uses it to catch prey in a very
particular way. It is a very slow hunter as its long and tender legs may
suggest. During night, when all insects are at rest, Scytodes starts its
hunt. The spider sneaks very carefully towards its prey and at about 10 mm
distance it stops and carefully measures the distance to its prey with one
front leg without disturbing it. Then it squeezes the back of its body
together and spits two poisonous silk threads, in 1/600 sec, in a zigzag
manner over the victim. The prey is immediately immobilized. When the prey
is larger the spider spits several times. Dinner is served! It is assumed
that the spider uses special long hearing hairs located at its legs to
locate its prey.
The mother does not make a nest, but carries her eggs under her belly in a
net of silk.
Scytodes thoricica is nocturnal. She like warmth and is not not rare
inside our houses.
In the southern part of Europe she can be found under stones outside