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Most of the 182 species in the spider family Desidae (saltwater spiders) are found in Australia and the South Pacific (Platnick 2013). In North America north of Mexico, there is one native species and one species originally from Australia. The small and inconspicuous spiders of the native species, Paratheuma insulana, are intertidal and found in coral rubble in southern Florida (Florida Keys) and the Caribbean; they have also been reported from oyster beds at low tide along the Gulf coast of northern Florida. These spiders remain in their silken retreats during high tide and emerge at night during low tide to hunt (no web is built). The introduced species, Badumna longinqua (formerly known as Ixeuticus martius), is a large dark spider that in North America is found in and around buildings in coastal California and Oregon (Ubick 2005; Simó et al. 2011). It spins conspicuous, messy webs (including a silken retreat) and is capable of delivering a painful, if not medically serious, bite (Isbister and Gray 2004) (Bradley 2013). The only other Nearctic representative of this family is the nocturnal Paratheuma interaesta, from around the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California) in Sonora, Mexico, which lives along rocky shores and builds retreats in empty barnacle shells (Roth and Brown 1975; Ubick 2005). Ubick briefly reviewed the confusing taxonomic history of some of the spiders now placed in the Desidae (Ubick 2005 and references therein).


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© Leo Shapiro

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