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The Eyes Have It

February 20, 2019

When you’ve seen a spider walking across the ceiling have you ever wondered what family it belongs to? Do you find yourself at a loss when dinner time conversation turns to arachnid identification? If the answer is yes, read on.

Spiders generally have four pairs of eyes – a main pair which have muscles to move the retina and are capable of forming images, and three pairs of secondary eyes which are fixed. The spatial arrangement of the eyes is characteristic of which type of spider it is. The chart to the left which I found on the web (no pun intended) shows the characteristic eye conformations associated with the various spider families.

One of the most common spiders out and about in the district, particularly at night-time is pictured below. A check of the id chart shows it to be… (see if you can work it out before reading the answer below)

of the family Lycosidae, the Wolf Spiders. Three pairs of eyes can clearly be seen on the front of the cephalothorax (the fused head and thorax section of spiders). The fourth pair of eyes hinted at in the id chart can easily be seen in the picture right, facing backwards. Wolf Spiders are excellent hunters. They have excellent eyesight and have many sensory hairs (see picture above) to enhance the sense of touch. These spiders do not build webs but rely on chasing down prey or ambushing them from their burrows.

As discussed in a previous blog, Wolf Spiders are easy to locate at night with a torch by their eye-shine. I wonder if you are really, really good whether you can id a spider at night using the multiple eye-shine and the id chart?

P.S. Of what family is this spider? (pictured below). Click HERE for the answer.


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