Amaurobius ferox (Hacklemesh Weaver)

About Amaurobius ferox

Taxonomic Hierarchy

→ Kingdom: Animalia
→ Phylum: Arthropoda
→ Class: Arachnida
→ Order: Araneae
→ Family: Amaurobiidae
→ Genus: Amaurobius
→ Species: Amaurobius ferox

Other Common Names

Black Lace Weaver

Author

Author of species name: Charles Athanase Walckenaer. First year published: 1830, as Clubiona ferox.

Pronunciation

ay-mor-OH-bee-uhs FAIR-ox

Meaning

Amaurobius is Greek for “living in the dark” (Cameron 2005) and ferox is Latin for “brave” or “fierce.”

Identifying Traits of Amaurobius ferox

Size

Body length (excluding legs) of adult female ranges from 8.5–15 mm; adult males range from 8-12.5 mm.

Female Primary Colors

Male Primary Colors

Eye diagram of Amaurobius ferox

Eyes

Total of eight eyes of relatively similar size, arranged in two horizontal rows of four. When viewing from the front of the spider, the bottom (anterior) row is almost straight, whereas the top (posterior) row is slightly procurved. The “face” of adult females is a bit wider than that of the adult males, but the eyes are still arranged in the same fashion.

Legs

Legs are of medium thickness and covered in lots of hairs;  they are usually brownish-red to nearly black and may have faint black bands upon close inspection. The tarsi (tips of legs) have 3 claws. The legs of adult males are longer than those of the females.

Body

Body is overall dark, brownish-red or nearly black. The abdomen has pale markings in a unique pattern that is often likened to a ghoulish mask or skull. These are fairly robust spiders. Cephalothorax is pear-shaped and may seem shiny; abdomen is oval-shaped and covered in hair.

Range of Amaurobius ferox

Amaurobius ferox can be found in the following states, provinces and territories across the United States and Canada. Our current understanding of each spider's distribution is drawn from numerous scientific publications and online spider submissions, in order to be as accurate as possible. It is important to remember that spiders do not adhere to the territorial lines decided on by humans, therefore these ranges are subject to change.

Important Range Notes

The first North American record of this species was November 8, 1871 in Providence, Rhode Island (Leech 1971), but it is native to Europe. Note that because it is so often associated with man-made structures and may be accidentally transported, this species can occasionally be found outside of the range we have listed here. In some states or provinces, the species may only be established in a small area or a single county, as is the case in King County, Washington (Rod Crawford, pers. comm., in Adams & Manolis 2014).

United States

Canada

Additional Information

Habitat

This species is common in and around homes, but is also found living under rocks, logs, and leaf litter in nature. It loves dark, relatively humid places.

Web

Tangled, lace-like webbing extends out from the spider’s somewhat funnel-shaped retreat. Anatomically, a special spinning plate (cribellum) and leg comb (calamistrum) allow the spider to create threads that are composed of thousands of tiny loops. The silk is not sticky, but prey items easily get snagged and tangled in it and cannot escape. The spider feels the vibrations from the struggling victim and rushes out to capture it.

Season

Adults can be found at any time of year, though it seems most common to find wandering adult males during the spring.

Food

Prey is any insect or other spider that wanders into the web and can be subdued. They will eat “creepy crawlies” like earth worms, as well.

Lifecycle

For this nocturnal spider, mating seems to take place mostly in the spring, but sometimes also in the fall. However, because this species seems to have a lifespan of 2 years or more, it is possible to find sexually mature specimens year-round, so mating may take place at any time really. Egg laying seems to happen mainly in the early summer. The female deposits eggs into a lens-shaped, silken sac about 7-15mm in diameter. Each sac can have anywhere from 60-180 individual eggs inside and it takes about 3-4 weeks before the spiderlings emerge. She stands guard over them that entire time.  Interestingly, this species is matriphagous, which means the mother sacrifices herself as food for her spiderlings. This happens a day or two after their first molt, which is roughly one week from their emergence from the egg sac. This species is considered “subsocial” because, after cannibalizing their mother, the spiderlings remain together and feed communally for about a month. They overwinter in their immature stage, and most overwinter once again in their adult form.

Remarks

Cloudsley-Thompson (1955) mentions that, in England, Amaurobius ferox is sometimes called the “Old Churchman” because it can be seen scurrying around on the walls and pews of old churches before rain storms.

Pictures of Amaurobius ferox

General

Female Spiders

Male Spiders

Filtering options are grayed out when we do not have pictures for the given perspective. If you are a spider photographer, you can submit pictures of spiders to help fill any voids in our ever expanding library.
  • Amaurobius ferox
  • Sex: MaleMale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • City/Region: Kildare
  • Country: Ireland
  • Amaurobius ferox
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Immature
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • Amaurobius ferox
  • Sex: MaleMale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • Amaurobius ferox
  • Sex: MaleMale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • State: New York
  • Country: United States
  • Amaurobius ferox
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Immature
  • Attributes: Webs
  • Amaurobius ferox
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Eyes
  • Amaurobius ferox
  • Sex: MaleMale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • City/Region: Michigan City
  • State: Indiana
  • Country: United States
  • Amaurobius ferox
  • Sex: MaleMale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Eyes
  • City/Region: Buffalo
  • State: New York
  • Country: United States
  • Amaurobius ferox
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • City/Region: Fabius, Onondaga County
  • State: New York
  • Country: United States
  • Amaurobius ferox
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Eyes
  • City/Region: Fabius, Onondaga County
  • State: New York
  • Country: United States
  • Amaurobius ferox
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Ventral
  • City/Region: Fabius, Onondaga County
  • State: New York
  • Country: United States
  • Amaurobius ferox
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • City/Region: Fabius, Onondaga County
  • State: New York
  • Country: United States
  • Amaurobius ferox
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Lateral
  • City/Region: Fabius, Onondaga County
  • State: New York
  • Country: United States
  • Amaurobius ferox
  • Sex: MaleMale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Genitalia
  • Amaurobius ferox
  • Sex: MaleMale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Genitalia
  • Amaurobius ferox
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal, Webs
  • State: New York
  • Country: United States

References and Further Reading

Various Research Papers

Scientific Diagrams and Keys for Identification

References for the Casual Reader

Species guide last updated: January 30, 2014

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