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The pantropical spider family Deinopidae includes 60 species (Platnick (2013), the distribution of one of which (Deinopis spinosa) extends northward to subtropical regions of the southeastern United States.  Members of this family of nocturnal spiders, which have elongated abdomens and a distinctive web architecture, are often known as ogre-faced spiders or net-casting spiders. The first name derives from the closely spaced, extremely large posterior median eyes that are characteristic of the pantropical genus Deinopus (members of the other deinopid genus, Menneus, which is found mainly in the Old World tropics [specifically, Africa and Australasia], have posterior median eyes that are not so large and are spaced farther apart). The second name, "net-casting spiders", refers to the remarkable prey capture behavior displayed by deinopids in which the spider grasps the corners of its small web with its four anterior (front) tarsi and lunges (actually, drops) toward its prey to envelop it with the extremely extensible web. After each successful strike (and often after an unsuccessful strike) the web is destroyed and must be rebuilt. Deinopid webs and prey capture behavior have been studied by numerous authors (see references in Coddington et al. 2012).

Blest and colleagues have investigated the visual physiology of deinopids (e.g., Blest and Land 1977; Blest 1978; see Coddington et al. 2012 for additional references).

Egg sacs are hard, brown spherical balls about the size of a pea. Tropical species bury their egg sacs in moist leaf litter, where the hard casing presumably rots in time to permit the spiderlings to escape (Coddington 2005).

For many decades, the genus name Deinopis was spelled (without good justification) as Dinopis and the family name Deinopidae was spelled Dinopidae (Coddington 2005). The family Deinopidae was long thought to be closely related to the Uloboridae, a belief that has been supported by modern phylogenetic analyses (Coddington 2005 and references therein).

(Coddington 2005 and references therein; Coddington et al. 2012 and references therein; Bradley 2013)


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