Exploring Ladybird Spider: Essential Insights for Enthusiasts and Curious Minds

The Ladybird Spider is a fascinating species with distinct features and behaviors that make it stand out among other spiders. It belongs to the Eresus genus and is known for its vibrant colors and unique patterns. In this article, we’ll explore some of the must-know facts about Ladybird Spiders, shedding light on their appearance, habitats, and significance in the ecosystem.

Native to Europe and parts of Asia, Ladybird Spiders are quite small; adult females measure around 10-16mm, while males tend to be smaller at 8-11mm. They exhibit sexual dimorphism, with males sporting bright red or orange abdomens adorned with black dots, resembling the well-known ladybird beetle. On the other hand, females display more muted colors, usually featuring a black or brown body.

What is a Ladybird Spider?

Scientific Classification

  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Arachnida
  • Order: Araneae
  • Family: Eresidae
  • Genus: Eresus

Genus Eresus

The Ladybird Spider is a member of the Eresus genus, commonly known as velvet spiders due to their unique velvety appearance.

Eresidae Family

Eresidae family spiders are also referred to as velvet spiders, and they are generally small to medium-sized, with characteristic colors and patterns.

Arachnida Class

Ladybird Spiders belong to the Arachnida class, which includes over 100,000 species of invertebrates like spiders, scorpions, and ticks.

Arthropoda Phylum

The largest phylum in the animal kingdom, Arthropoda, encompasses creatures with jointed limbs and exoskeletons, such as insects, arachnids, and crustaceans.

Distribution

Ladybird Spiders can be found in various locations, including:

  • Central Europe
  • Southern Norway
  • Northern Italy
  • Dorset Heathland

Species

There are different species of Ladybird Spiders, with habitat preferences ranging from lowland heathland to sheltered areas, some examples include:

  • Eresus kollari, found in Italy
  • Eresus cinnaberinus, commonly found in Central Europe

The Ladybird Spider has distinctive black spots on its abdomen, giving it a similar appearance to the ladybird beetle. Its name was first introduced by Charles Athanase Walckenaer in the early 1800s. Monitoring and preserving this captivating species are essential for maintaining biodiversity.

Physical Description and Identification

Size

Ladybird spiders are part of the velvet spider family and are relatively small in size. Males typically measure around 4-6 millimeters, while females are slightly larger, averaging 8-10 millimeters.

Color

These spiders exhibit striking colors and patterns, with males and females displaying different characteristics. Males are usually dark with red-orange markings, whereas females have a black base color with bright red abdomens and black spots.

Sexual Dimorphism

  • Males: Dark color with red-orange markings
  • Females: Black color with bright red abdomens and black spots

Red Abdomen

The female ladybird spider’s red abdomen serves as an easily identifiable feature for this species. The color not only attracts potential mates but also helps in deterring potential predators due to the bright warning colors.

Black Spots

Black spots on the female’s abdomen add to the overall appearance of the spider, mimicking the look of a ladybird, which is how this species got its name. These black spots act as a defense mechanism, making the spider appear less appealing to predators.

Comparison Table: Male vs Female Ladybird Spiders

Feature Male Female
Color Dark with red-orange markings Black with red abdomen and spots
Size (average) 4-6 millimeters 8-10 millimeters
Prosoma Usually smaller Slightly larger, more rounded

Habitat and Distribution

Lowland Heath

The Ladybird Spider can primarily be found in lowland heath habitats. These environments typically feature:

  • Dry and sandy soils
  • Low growing vegetation like heather
  • A mix of grasses and shrubs

In general, lowland heathlands provide the ideal conditions for the spiders to create burrows, hunt their prey, and reproduce.

Europe

The Ladybird Spider has a widespread distribution across Europe. Some key locations include:

  • England
  • Northern Italy
  • Southern Norway

In these regions, they mainly occupy heathlands and south-facing slopes with suitable sheltered locations.

Location Preferred Habitat
England Dorset heathland
Northern Italy South-facing slopes
Southern Norway Lowland heaths and forests

England

In England, the Ladybird Spider is mostly found in the Dorset heathlands, a prime example of lowland heath habitat. However, the species is considered endangered in this area due to habitat loss and fragmentation.

Northern Italy

In Northern Italy, the spider thrives in south-facing slopes, as they provide an ideal mix of sunlight, warmth, and the necessary vegetation for their survival.

South-Facing Slopes

South-facing slopes play a significant role in the Ladybird Spider’s distribution. These areas experience more sunlight and warmth, which results in:

  • Greater prey availability
  • Suitable burrow conditions
  • Favorable microhabitats

Sheltered Locations

Sheltered locations are vital for Ladybird Spiders, as they offer protection from harsh weather conditions and predators. Such spots include:

  • Dense vegetation pockets
  • Under rocks or logs
  • Crevices in the terrain

Overall, understanding the Ladybird Spider’s habitat and distribution is essential for its conservation efforts, as factors like habitat loss and fragmentation pose significant threats to this striking and intriguing species.

Behavior and Ecology

Diet and Prey

Ladybird spiders primarily feed on insects such as beetles and other spiders. They catch prey using their venomous bite.

  • Prey examples: beetles, other spiders

Predators

They have some predators, like birds and larger spiders, but are often protected by their bright colors, warning potential threats of their venom.

  • Predator examples: birds, larger spiders

Silk and Webs

Ladybird spiders create different types of silk for various purposes, including the production of cribellate silk used for prey capture.

  • Liquid silk hardens into webs

Burrow Life

These spiders live in silk-lined burrows, providing shelter and protection from predators. They often stay hidden in their burrows during the day and come out at night for hunting.

  • Burrows protect from predators
  • Active at night

Reproduction and Mating

Mating typically occurs in the spring, with male ladybird spiders seeking out females within their burrows.

  • Mating season: spring

Female and Spiderlings Care

After mating, female ladybird spiders lay eggs within their burrows and guard the eggs and spiderlings until they are ready to leave the burrow. This maternal care ensures the young spiders have a higher chance of survival.

  • Female guards eggs and spiderlings

Comparison Table

Feature Ladybird Spider Other Spider Species
Diet Insects Insects, small animals
Silk Type Cribellate Varies
Burrow Life Yes Sometimes
Mating Season Spring Varies
Female and Spiderlings Care Yes Varies

Conservation and Threats

Endangered Status

The Ladybird Spider (Eresus sandaliatus) is considered an endangered species in many parts of its range, particularly in England. It was thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered in 1980. In the UK, the Ladybird Spider is protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and is listed in the British Red Data Book as vulnerable.

Land-Use Changes

One major threat to the Ladybird Spider is land-use changes, mainly due to:

  • Urban development
  • Agriculture
  • Conversion of lowland heathland to other land uses

These activities result in habitat loss for the spider and reduce the availability of prey for the male spiders.

Agriculture and Forestry

Agriculture and forestry can negatively impact the Ladybird Spider’s habitat through:

  • Fertilizer runoff
  • Pesticides
  • Deforestation

These practices degrade the quality of the spider’s habitat, threatening its survival.

Conservation Efforts

Efforts to conserve the Ladybird Spider include:

  • Habitat restoration
  • Heathland management
  • Captive breeding and reintroduction programs

These efforts aim to maintain or improve the conditions of the spider’s habitat, supporting conservation and recovery.

Monitoring

Ongoing monitoring of the Ladybird Spider population is essential to ensure the effectiveness of conservation efforts. Monitoring activities involve:

  • Surveying the spider’s population
  • Assessing habitat quality
  • Identifying new threats

Regular monitoring helps to inform adaptive management strategies and ensure the Ladybird Spider’s long-term survival.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

    View all posts
  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

    View all posts

57 thoughts on “Exploring Ladybird Spider: Essential Insights for Enthusiasts and Curious Minds”

    • They are not Jumping Spiders, which is what we thought at first based on the body structure. They eyes are all wrong for Jumping Spiders. We haven’t totally researched this yet, but we believe they are probably grouped with the primitive spiders, Tarantulas, Trapdoor Spiders and Purseweb Spiders in the Infraorder Mygalomorphae which we suspect because of the behavior of the female. While we are working on this comment, we will take a sidebar and try to research that. We were wrong. They are True Spiders in the Infraorder or suborder Araneomorphae.

      Reply
  1. One of the rarest spiders in Europe! What a lucky find. This is a male – one of the few species where the male is more brightly-coloured than the female. Cheers! 🙂

    Reply
  2. Indeed i found that in Mani Gytheio rare one and very impressive seeking probably a female nest. Indeed there were female nests at close proximity at the spider site. I first came up that spider when i was very young and thought was a black widow but of course its not at all . Its black velvety coloured and the nest seems like a fluffy tube like woolen clothing radiating oyutwards (like sgegestrias or filistidae spiders ) but lot bigger. The web is very strong tight and also fluffy parts are extemely elastic. Very impressive spider not at all dangerous despite its menace looking of the female. The malmignate or the female black widow of south europe is the 1/10 of its size. Hence spiders size is not a factor of dangerousness…. This is true a big one is not a venomous for humans.

    Reply
  3. I think I found a ladybird spider in my yard today…I think? to me this spider has a pumpkin on its back… I did take pictures…

    gardengirl in Birmingham, alabama

    Reply
  4. I think I found a ladybird spider in my yard today…I think? to me this spider has a pumpkin on its back… I did take pictures…

    gardengirl in Birmingham, alabama

    Reply
  5. We saw two of these beauties yesterday. This is a wonderful year for spiders in Kythira. The variety of web spiders is much wider than most Springs.

    Reply
  6. I found on too.
    Location Kavala, Greece.
    I tried to take a good photo but it was running very fast.

    Check this one.
    Flickr photo

    I have also a clear photo of her back.

    Reply
  7. I found on too.
    Location Kavala, Greece.
    I tried to take a good photo but it was running very fast.

    Check this one.
    Flickr photo

    I have also a clear photo of her back.

    Reply
  8. Hi there!
    We have one female ladybird spider at home.As I had the chance to observe the behavior of this spider,I must say it is really sweet and don’t cause any problems.
    I was wondering if it is possible to keep it as a pet or should I release it back where it was found.And one more question – is it really endangered species or the endangerment is only for the UK.Forgot to mention that the spider was found in Plovdiv , Bulgaria.
    Thanks in advance!

    Reply
  9. Hi there!
    We have one female ladybird spider at home.As I had the chance to observe the behavior of this spider,I must say it is really sweet and don’t cause any problems.
    I was wondering if it is possible to keep it as a pet or should I release it back where it was found.And one more question – is it really endangered species or the endangerment is only for the UK.Forgot to mention that the spider was found in Plovdiv , Bulgaria.
    Thanks in advance!

    Reply
    • We believe that the Ladybird Spider may be rare in many parts of its range. Possibly your individual has already mated and might be able to lay eggs in captivity, in which case you could release young spiders back into the habitat while providing a safer environment for your spider. Your questions are not easy to answer but we believe you may be a good caretaker for the spider in your possession, and that you might be able to have a beneficial impact on a potentially endangered species, but that would depend upon your spider’s fertility. If she has not mated, then we think it is a shame to deny her the chance to pass on her genes.

      Reply
  10. We discovered THREE of these male Lady Bird spiders on our walk today in Cotterg, Valais, Switzerland. I took photos and these are definitely a match. What a rare find! This is the first time I have ever seen this coloring and kind of spider and so we photographed a few of them and looked it up as we were curious to discover if they were poisonous and just what kind of spider they are. Thank you for your blog info. Please let me know if there is somewhere we can upload our photos to share with other spider lovers out there.

    Reply
  11. Saw a ladybird spider yesterday on the coastal path between Stoupa and Agios Nikolaus on the west coast of the Mani in Greece. What a pretty arachnid.

    Reply
  12. I find that spider every year for the past 3 years in Evia island ( Styra) in early spring. Difficult not to notice. It stands out on the local grey stones . Impressive creature for greek standard s!

    Reply
  13. Had a ladybird spider, possibly female from the size, cross our path at Delphi amongst the ruins two weeks ago. Caused a thrill for our temple-viewing party! Very glad to learn now that it is not poisonous, because of the open-toed sandals.

    Reply
  14. Found a male ladybird spider today at 5.20 pm in my backyard, (gianouli village in Evros, Greece)
    Will post the taken pictures on my Instagram in up to a week if anyone’s interested (@PunkyPiez)
    (Tbh I wanted to add him to my bug collection until I found out its a rare species D:)

    Reply
  15. Found a male ladybird spider today at 5.20 pm in my backyard, (gianouli village in Evros, Greece)
    Will post the taken pictures on my Instagram in up to a week if anyone’s interested (@PunkyPiez)
    (Tbh I wanted to add him to my bug collection until I found out its a rare species D:)

    Reply
  16. Hi,
    Just like to let you know we saw two Lady Bird Spiders whilst on holiday in Pefkos Rhodes today Monday 15th May 2017

    Reply
  17. Hi,
    Just like to let you know we saw two Lady Bird Spiders whilst on holiday in Pefkos Rhodes today Monday 15th May 2017

    Reply
  18. Strangely enough, I spotted one of those in Kiotari, Rhodes Greece, but didn’t manage to get a picture as it disappeared under a wall.

    Reply
  19. Had one in our house near Lindos, Rhodes just now… I’m afraid it was on the dog and he killed it… not sure whether he’s been bitten or not, so keeping an eye on him… are they venomous?

    Reply
  20. Found one yesterday at Orestiada, Evros, Greece. I was lucky to have my older son with me to admire her as well!!! Trully a very beautiful spider. You can see the photos I took at my Instagram profile (tympos).
    I wonder if they are really rare at my area.

    Reply
  21. Found one yesterday at Orestiada, Evros, Greece. I was lucky to have my older son with me to admire her as well!!! Trully a very beautiful spider. You can see the photos I took at my Instagram profile (tympos).
    I wonder if they are really rare at my area.

    Reply
  22. Some of my pupils found a male today in the school yard in Patras, in the north western Peloponnese (Greece). It was a very exciting find! I have photos 🙂

    Reply
  23. I live in Rome Italy in the countryside north of the city. I found a lady bird spider just like your photo in my swimming pool. If you’re interested I can send you my photos of this beautiful spider.

    Reply

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