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Insects and other arthropods

Long-bodied cellar spider

English
Pholcus phalangioides

Tabs group

Description

These spiders, which often live indoors, are recognizable by their long, thin legs and their elongated, greyish-white bodies. The females’ legs are five or six times as long as their bodies, which measure about 9 mm. The males are slightly smaller.

They are also known as skull spiders, because their cephalothorax vaguely resembles a human skull.

Life cycle

Like all spiders, they grow by shedding their “skin” when they moult. They do not undergo any kind of metamorphosis. The young spiders, or juveniles, look like smaller versions of adults.

When mating, the males must be careful that the females don’t mistake them for prey and devour them. The male taps the female’s web to make it vibrate at a certain frequency in order to be recognized. Fertilized females lay 20 to 30 eggs. They wrap them in silk thread and carry them around until they hatch. The young spiders live on the female’s web until they can look after themselves.

Geographic distribution

These spiders are found on every continent except Antarctica. They are the only species of the family Pholcidae in Quebec.

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