Overview

Comprehensive Description

phalangioidesPholcusAraneaeArachnidaArthropodaAnimalia

Pholcus phalangioides (Fuesslin, 1775)

Distribution

Cosmopolitan.

Notes

Previously recorded from unspecified locality between Resen and Ohrid ( Drensky 1929 , Drensky 1936 ).

  • Deltshev, Christo, Komnenov, Marjan, Blagoev, Gergin, Georgiev, Teodor, Lazarov, Stoyan, Stojkoska, Emilija, Naumova, Maria (2013): Faunistic diversity of spiders (Araneae) in Galichitsa mountain (FYR Macedonia). Biodiversity Data Journal 1, 977: 977-977, URL:http://dx.doi.org/10.3897/BDJ.1.e977
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phalangioidesPholcusPholcidaeAnimalia

Pholcus phalangioides (Fuesslin, 1775)

Materials

Type status: Other material Occurrence: recordedBy: Kuntner, Čandek ; sex: 1 female, 1 male; Location: locationID: SI50; country: Slovenia ; locality: Sp. Praprece ; minimumElevationInMeters: 351; maximumElevationInMeters: 351; decimalLatitude: 46.1620 ; decimalLongitude: 14.6933 ; Event: eventDate: 2010-08-03/2012-05-28 ; habitat: house and surroundings

Type status: Other material Occurrence: recordedBy: Kostanjšek , RTŠB 2011 ; sex: 1 female; Location: locationID: SI68; country: Slovenia ; locality: Sv. Jurij ob Scavnici ; minimumElevationInMeters: 235; maximumElevationInMeters: 235; decimalLatitude: 46.5687 ; decimalLongitude: 16.0223 ; Event: eventDate: 2011-07-22 ; habitat: school

  • Candek, Klemen, Gregoric, Matjaz, Kostanjsek, Rok, Frick, Holger, Kropf, Christian, Kuntner, Matjaz, Miller, Jeremy A., Hoeksema, Bert W. (2013): Targeting a portion of central European spider diversity for permanent preservation. Biodiversity Data Journal 1, 980: 980-980, URL:http://dx.doi.org/10.3897/BDJ.1.e980
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phalangioidesPholcusPholcidaeAnimalia

Pholcus phalangioides (Fuesslin, 1775)

Materials

Type status: Other material Occurrence: recordedBy: Kuntner, Čandek ; sex: 1 female, 1 male; Location: locationID: SI50; country: Slovenia ; locality: Sp. Praprece ; minimumElevationInMeters: 351; maximumElevationInMeters: 351; decimalLatitude: 46.1620 ; decimalLongitude: 14.6933 ; Event: eventDate: 2010-08-03/2012-05-28 ; habitat: house and surroundings

Type status: Other material Occurrence: recordedBy: Kostanjšek , RTŠB 2011 ; sex: 1 female; Location: locationID: SI68; country: Slovenia ; locality: Sv. Jurij ob Scavnici ; minimumElevationInMeters: 235; maximumElevationInMeters: 235; decimalLatitude: 46.5687 ; decimalLongitude: 16.0223 ; Event: eventDate: 2011-07-22 ; habitat: school

  • Candek, Klemen, Gregoric, Matjaz, Kostanjsek, Rok, Frick, Holger, Kropf, Christian, Kuntner, Matjaz, Miller, Jeremy A., Hoeksema, Bert W. (2013): Targeting a portion of central European spider diversity for permanent preservation. Biodiversity Data Journal 1, 980: 980-980, URL:http://dx.doi.org/10.3897/BDJ.1.e980
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Hoeksema, Bert W.

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phalangioidesPholcusAraneaeArachnidaArthropodaAnimalia

Pholcus phalangioides (Fuesslin, 1775)

Distribution

Cosmopolitan.

Notes

Previously recorded from unspecified locality between Resen and Ohrid ( Drensky 1929 , Drensky 1936 ).

  • Deltshev, Christo, Komnenov, Marjan, Blagoev, Gergin, Georgiev, Teodor, Lazarov, Stoyan, Stojkoska, Emilija, Naumova, Maria (2013): Faunistic diversity of spiders (Araneae) in Galichitsa mountain (FYR Macedonia). Biodiversity Data Journal 1, 977: 977-977, URL:http://dx.doi.org/10.3897/BDJ.1.e977
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Distribution

Pholcus phalangioides is found throughout the world. It is a common cellar spider throughout the United States.

Other Geographic Terms: cosmopolitan

  • Emerton, J. 1902. The Common Spiders of the United Stateds. Boston, U.S.A., and London: Ginn & Company, Publishers.
  • Jackman, J. 1997. A Field Guide ot Spiders & Scorpions of Texas. Houston, TX: Gulf Publishing Company.
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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Physical Description

Morphology

Pholcus phalangioides is pale yellow-brown except for a large gray patch in the center of the cephalothorax. The body and legs are almost translucent. These spiders are covered with fine gray hairs. The head is a darker color around the eyes. A translucent line marks the dorsal vessel. There are eight eyes: two small eyes in front of the two triads of larger eyes.

Females are seven to eight millimeters in length and males are six millimeters.

Because of the translucent quality of this animal, using a microscope it is possible to see the moving blood cells in the legs and body of a living animal.

Range length: 6 to 8 mm.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: female larger

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Ecology

Habitat

Pholcus phalangiodes can be found in undisturbed, low light locations. Some places one might encounter this spider are in basements, under stones, under ledges, and in caves. People most often associate these spiders with living on ceilings and in corners in homes. They make their webs large, loose, and flat, but they can make them in irregular shapes to fit into surrounding objects. Their webs are normally oriented horizontally. Pholcus phalangioides hangs upside down on the web it makes.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; forest

Other Habitat Features: urban ; suburban ; agricultural ; caves

  • Foelix, R. 1982. Biology of Spiders. Cambridge, Massachusets, and London, England: Harvard University Press.
  • Uhl, G. November 1998. Mating Behavior in the Cellar Spider, Pholcus phalangioides. Animal Behavior, Volume 56 Issue 5: 1155-1159.
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Trophic Strategy

Pholcus phalangioides seems to prefer other spiders and small insects as prey. Also, males and females have both been known to engage in cannibalism. Females have been seen invading another spider's web, eating that spider, and using the foreign web to catch new prey for themselves. These spiders kill and digest their prey using venom.

Animal Foods: insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods

Primary Diet: carnivore (Insectivore )

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Associations

Because their diet is primarily insects, these spiders play the important role of controlling the growth of insect populations.

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When the web of P. phalangioides is disturbed, the spider swings its body around rapidly with its legs attached firmly to its web. It swings fast enough that the spider becomes very hard to see. This may be a form of camouflage.

Known Predators:

  • Birds

Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Male spiders find a female spiders by tracking the pheromones she leaves. During mating, tactile communication is probably of some importance.

Communication Channels: tactile ; chemical

Other Communication Modes: pheromones

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; chemical

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Web Building

These spiders can't seem to take a step without leaving a trail of webs. I watched a carpenter ant struggling but thought maybe it had been poisoned. Then I realized that there probably was a nearly invisible trace of Pholcus web it was stuck in, when like a lighting bolt one of these shot out at it from behind the microwave and started it's web toss. I have observed this spiders just ambling across the floor, although their long legs help them cover a lot of ground, they just take their dear sweet time and when watching them build webs, you would think they were the hapless clods of nature, but that behavior is so misleading. The festooning of webs wherever they travel I guess is meant to trap anything that comes in contact with them. I heard some older gentleman refer the them as carpenter spiders because of this habit. At the end of the summer I cleaned up a web where a large Pholcus was busy catching ants. I left him there ridding me of the dreaded carpenter ant who drops from the trees over-hanging my house. When ant season passed, he moved on and when I took the broom I was rather amazed at how strong the webs are, but not sticky like you mentioned. They are the masters of the game, and quite engaging little fellows, and catch all the spiders which frighten me.

  • I just got done sweeping the ceilings and the corners of a couple of rooms today, I will wait until the light is better to finish the living and dining rooms. I have to get these webs before dirt settles on them. I live with these spiders because they are better than any toxic chemical one could use. Safety first.
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Life Cycle

A mother P. phalangioides watches over her newly hatched young (prenymphs) for about nine days until the prenymphs shed their skins to become little spiders. The young spiders then leave the maternal web, and go look for a place to build their own webs.

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Life Expectancy

Pholcus phalangioides can live up to about three years.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
3 (high) years.

Range lifespan

Status: captivity:
3 (high) years.

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Reproduction

In studies done by Gabriele Uhl at the University of Bonn, male P. phalangioides seemed to be attracted to and to mate with larger females more often than smaller females. This may increase reproductive success for males, because large females produce more eggs than smaller females.

Before mating, a male spider deposits some sperm onto a little web, and then sucks it into a special cavity within his pedipalp. During mating, which can take several hours, the male deposits his sperm into the female's epigynum, which is an opening on the underside of her abdomen. Females can store the sperm in a special cavity at the beginning of the uterus, called the uterus externus, until it is time for her eggs to be fertilized. Timing of fertilization and laying depends on the availability of food. Because the sperm are stored for some period of time, it is possible for a female to mate again. If this occurs, the sperm from the two males mixes in the uterus externa. However, the sperm of the last male mated with has priority in fertilizing the eggs. This is because of a mechanism of sperm removal during mating. Males perform rhythmic movements of their intromittent organs during copulation, which results in extrusion of most of the sperm already in the uterus externa.

After a female lays her eggs, she wraps them in silk strands and carries the package in her chelicera (jaws), located on the underside of her body.

Breeding season: Peak breeding occurs between June and September.

Key Reproductive Features: gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization (Internal ); sperm-storing

The only parental care female P. phalangioides offer their young is nine days of protection as the prenymphs finish developing into spiders.

Parental Investment: pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Protecting: Female)

  • Emerton, J. 1902. The Common Spiders of the United Stateds. Boston, U.S.A., and London: Ginn & Company, Publishers.
  • Jackman, J. 1997. A Field Guide ot Spiders & Scorpions of Texas. Houston, TX: Gulf Publishing Company.
  • Uhl, G. November 1998. Mating Behavior in the Cellar Spider, Pholcus phalangioides. Animal Behavior, Volume 56 Issue 5: 1155-1159.
  • Stüber, K. 1999. "Biology of *Pholcus phalangioides*" (On-line). Accessed October 2, 2001 at http://caliban.mpiz-koeln.mpg.de/~stueber/essays/pholcus/pholcus_phalangioides.html.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Pholcus phalangioides

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 12 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

H--C-S--HA-ANGI-ID-S-C-I---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------GCTTTTCCTCGAATAAATAATCTTAGTTTTTGGCTTCTTCCACCTTCTGTGTTGCTTTTATTATTGTCTGGACTTGTAGAGACAGGAGTAGGGGCAGGGTGAACTATTTATCCCCCGTTGTCTTCAGGCGTCGGGCATTCTGGGGTTTCTATGGATTTT---GCTATTTTTTCTTTACATTTAGCGGGGGCTTCTTCTATTATAGGGGCTATTAATTTTATTTCTACTGTGATTAATATACGGCTAATAGGAGTGAGCATAGATAAGGTAAATCTGTTTGTTTGGTCTGTTTTAATTACGGCTGTTTTGCTCTTATTATCGTTACCTGTGTTAGCGGGT---GCTATCACTATATTGTTGACTGATCGTAATTTTAATACGGCTTTTTTTGATCCGGCGGGGGGTGGGGACCCAATTTTGTTTCAACATTTGTTTTGGTTTTTTGGGCATCCTGAAGTGTATATTCTGATTCTTCCAGGGTTTGGGTTAGTGTCTCATATTGTTAGTTACGGGAGAGGGAAGCGT---GAGCCTTTTGGGGCTTTAGGGATGGTGTATGCTATAGCTGGAATTGGATTGATAGGATTTGTGGTATGAGCACACCACATGTTTTCAGTTGGTATAGATGTAGATACTCGTGCTTATTTTACTGCTGCTACTATAATTATTGCGGTCCCTACGGGAATTAAAGTTTTTAGATGGATA---GCTACTTTACATGGTTCT---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------TATTTT---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------AAA
-- end --

Download FASTA File

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Pholcus phalangioides

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 6
Specimens with Barcodes: 13
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

At this time Pholcus phalangioides are not endangered or threatened, so there is no conservation underway (ESA).

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

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National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

These spiders often live inside houses, where humans do not normally want spiders and their webs.

Negative Impacts: household pest

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Pholcus phalangioides helps control pest populations.

Positive Impacts: controls pest population

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Wikipedia

Pholcus phalangioides


The cellar spider (Pholcus phalangioides), also known as the skull spider due to its cephalothorax looking like a human skull, is a spider of the family Pholcidae. Females have a body length of about 9 mm; males are slightly smaller. Its legs are about 5 or 6 times the length of its body (reaching up to 7 cm of leg span in females). Its habit of living on the ceilings of rooms, caves, garages or cellars gives rise to one of its common names. They are considered beneficial in some parts of the world because they kill and eat other spiders, including species that are venomous to humans such as hobo and redback spiders.[1][2]

Cellar spider carrying its spiderlings

Originally a species restricted to warmer parts of the west Palearctic, through the help of humans this synanthrope now occurs throughout a large part of the world. It is unable to survive in cold weather, and consequently it is restricted to (heated) houses in some parts of its range.

This is the only spider species described by the Swiss entomologist Johann Kaspar Füssli who first recorded it for science in 1775. Confusion often arises over its common name, because "daddy longlegs" is also applied to two other unrelated arthropods: the harvestman and the crane fly.

Pholcus phalangioides has the habit of shaking its web violently when disturbed as a defence mechanism against predators. It can easily catch and eat other spiders (even those much larger than itself, such as Tegenaria duellica), mosquitoes and other insects, and woodlice. When food is scarce, it will prey on its own kind. Rough handling will cause some of its legs to become detached.

Because they originally came from the subtropics, these spiders do not appear to be influenced by seasonal changes and breed at any time of the year. The female holds the 20 to 30 eggs in her pedipalps. Spiderlings are transparent with short legs and change their skin about 5 or 6 times as they mature.

Venom[edit]

Female with egg sac


An urban legend states that Pholcidae are the most venomous spiders in the world, but this claim has been proven untrue. Recent research has shown that pholcid venom has a relatively weak effect on insects.[3] In the MythBusters episode "Daddy Long-Legs" it was shown that the spider's fangs (0.25 mm) could penetrate human skin (0.1 mm) but that only a very mild burning feeling was felt for a few seconds.[4]

References[edit]

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Commonly misspelled Pholcus phalangoides.

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