Hammock Spider

While photographing wet rot (“Wet Rot” 11-14-14) on a Douglas fir log, I noticed a hammock spider wandering about on the same log. The spider was rather cooperative so I was also able to photograph this little arachnid. I believe it is Pityohyphantes costatus).

The hammock spider has a white to light brown cephalothorax with a broad forked line (resembling a tuning fork) extending from the middle of the eyes. The eyes are arranged in two parallel rows. Its abdomen is ivory with a brown or reddish herringbone pattern extending down the mid-line and is longer than it is wide. The long, slender legs of the hammock spider have bristles.

Found throughout Northern United States and Southern Canada, the hammock spider inhabits leaf litter of coniferous and deciduous woods, tall grass, fields and shrubby areas. The genus name, Pityohyphantes, is from the Greek and means “pine weaver”.

The hammock spider gets its name from the sheetlike web it builds between branches and grasses. The hammock spider clings under the web until a small insect gets entangled in the web. After biting or attacking the hapless victim from underneath the web, the hammock spider pulls its meal through the sheet.

Young spiders and adults overwinter under loose bark or stones. Perhaps this hammock spider was searching for a place on the log to spend the winter.

The photographs were taken along Burney Creek (Shasta County CA). Wish I were able to photograph a point of reference to illustrate the small size (about a centimeter) of the hammock spider.

 

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