Nursery Web Spider Facts: Essential Information in a Glance

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The nursery web spider is an intriguing species, known for its unique habits and fascinating behaviors. These spiders belong to the family Pisauridae and can be found in various parts of the world – from North America to Europe and even Asia. Their large size and distinctive appearance often catch the attention of spider enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the nursery web spider is its method of reproduction and care for its offspring. The female carries her egg sac in her jaws until the spiderlings are ready to hatch. At that point, she builds a special web called a “nursery” to provide a safe environment for the babies as they emerge. This behavior sets them apart from other spider species and highlights their protective instincts.

Another interesting characteristic of nursery web spiders is their hunting technique. Instead of building a permanent web to trap their prey, they actively hunt and ambush their victims. Their agility and keen eyesight allow them to chase and capture unsuspecting insects, making them efficient predators in their natural habitat.

Nursery Web Spider Overview

Family Pisauridae

Nursery web spiders belong to the Family Pisauridae. They are known for their unique maternal care, as females create protective silk nurseries for their egg sacs. These spiders typically have:

  • Long legs
  • Slender bodies
  • Lengthwise striping


Species and Genera

There are several species and genera of nursery web spiders. Some examples include:

  • Pisaura mira
  • Dolomedes tenebrosus


Comparison Table

Species Web-Building Behavior Common Habitats
Pisaura mira No orb-weaving Grasslands, meadows, and gardens
Dolomedes tenebrosus Semi-aquatic Near water sources, like ponds or streams

(source 1, source 2)

Nursery web spiders are fascinating creatures with unique maternal care behaviors that set them apart from other spiders.

Physical Characteristics

Size and Color

Nursery web spiders, belonging to the family Pisauridae, have a distinct appearance. These spiders exhibit various shades of colors, ranging from brown and black to white and gray. They are characterized by their slender bodies and long legs.

Typically, nursery web spiders possess a lengthwise brown stripe on their cephalothorax, the head region, which helps them blend into their surroundings 1.

Key Features

Nursery web spiders have several notable features. Here are a few key aspects:

  • Long, slender legs
  • Lengthwise brown stripe on the cephalothorax
  • Brown, black, and white color variations

Below is a comparison table showcasing some common characteristics between nursery web spiders and another spider species, the yellow garden spider:

Characteristic Nursery Web Spider Yellow Garden Spider
Size Medium Large
Body Shape Slender Bulgy
Color Brown, black, white Black, yellow
Web Pattern Nursery web Orb web

By understanding the physical characteristics of nursery web spiders, it is easier to identify them and appreciate their role in the ecosystem.

Habitat and Distribution

Geographical Range

Nursery web spiders are widely distributed across the globe, mainly in the following regions:

  • North America
  • China
  • India
  • United States

These spiders can be found from the Atlantic coastline to the Great Plains.

Common Habitats

Nursery web spiders typically inhabit:

  • Forests
  • Woods
  • Meadows
  • Grasslands

They are often seen climbing:

  • Shrubs
  • Bushes
Habitat Examples of Spiders
Forests Pale Spider, Blue Spider
Grasslands Blue Spider
Shrubs Pale Spider
Bushes Pale Spider, Blue Spider
  • Forests and Woods: These spiders prefer areas with dense vegetation, where they can easily hunt and build their nurseries.
  • Meadows and Grasslands: These open spaces provide plenty of prey and suitable locations for webs.

These habitats provide the ideal living conditions for nursery web spiders, where they can thrive and reproduce.

Behavior and Lifestyle

Hunting and Feeding

Nursery web spiders are predators that hunt down their prey instead of using webs for capturing them. They primarily feed on insects like flies, mosquitoes, and small moths. Using their agile eight legs, they run fast and jump to catch their victims. Here are some features of their hunting behavior:

  • Don’t build webs for catching prey
  • Prefer insects as their main source of food
  • Can jump and run fast to catch their targets

Movement and Activities

The movement of these spiders is unique, their long legs allowing them to cover distances rapidly. They can often be seen walking on windows or searching for shelter in grassy areas. Key characteristics of their movement and activities include:

  • Long legs for quick movement
  • Often found on windows or in grassy spaces seeking shelter
  • Excel at blending with their environment

Comparison Table: Hunting & Feeding vs. Movement & Activities

Category Hunting & Feeding Movement & Activities
Primary Focus Catching Insects Speed and Flexibility
Physical Features Eight legs, agile Long legs, ability to jump
Examples of Behavior Running and jumping Walking on windows, hiding in grassy areas
Outcome Provides nutrition Safety and shelter

Reproduction and Mating

Courtship Rituals

Nursery web spiders exhibit unique courtship rituals. The male spider offers a nuptial gift to the female, usually in the form of prey wrapped in silk. This gift serves two purposes:

  • Attracts the female for mating
  • Provides nourishment during copulation

Males sometimes deceive females with inedible gifts, but successful mating is more likely with a genuine offering. In some cases, males perform complex mating dances to charm the females.

Egg Sac Care

Once the female nursery web spider accepts the male’s gift and copulation occurs, she creates an egg sac to protect her eggs. The egg sac is often made of silk and attached to plants or other structures. The female carries the egg sac with her until the spiderlings are ready to emerge. As they approach maturity, she creates a “nursery” by weaving a silk tent, where the eggs can hatch safely.

Care for egg sacs involves the following:

  • Carrying the sac around by the female spider
  • Attaching the egg sacs to plants or other structures
  • Creating a nursery web for the spiderlings

Comparison of Male and Female Nursery Web Spider Roles:

Role Male Nursery Web Spider Female Nursery Web Spider
Courtship Offers nuptial gift & mating dance Accepts or rejects male’s gift
Mating Copulates with the female Carries out fertilization
Egg Sac Care No involvement Creates, carries, and protects

Spiderlings and Development

Hatching and Growth

Nursery web spiders, belonging to the family Pisauridae, overwinter as spiderlings and grow into full-grown adults by late-spring/early summer. These spiders hatch from egg sacs carefully guarded by their mother, who ensures their protection. Spiderlings are often found among leaves and vegetation, where they can be camouflaged and safe from predators.

  • Spiderlings: Hatch from egg sacs
  • Protection: Guarded by mother spider
  • Habitat: Leaves and vegetation

Molting Process

As the spiderlings grow, they undergo a series of molting events, shedding their exoskeleton to make room for a new, larger one. This can occur multiple times before reaching adulthood.

Here is a comparison table of the molt and growth of spiderlings:

Feature Spiderlings
Molting Process Occurs multiple times as they grow
Growth From late-spring to early summer
Protection Guarded by mother spider for a certain duration

For humans, it might be helpful to think of the spiderlings’ molting process as resembling the growth stages of children. Much like how children outgrow their clothes, spiderlings molt their exoskeletons to accommodate their rapidly growing bodies.

In conclusion, the development of nursery web spiderlings involves hatching from egg sacs, being protected by their mothers, and undergoing multiple molts. They can be found camouflaged in leaves and vegetation, making them a fascinating subject for those interested in spider development.

Venom and Interactions with Humans

Venom Properties

The venom of the nursery web spider, Pisaura mira, is not well-studied yet. However, some general properties of spider venom can be found in araneomorph spider venoms. Major components in such venoms include:

  • Small molecular mass compounds
  • Antimicrobial peptides (only in some spider families)
  • Cysteine-rich peptides

Bite Symptoms and Treatment

Nursery web spiders, like other fishing spiders, are not considered dangerous to humans. If a nursery web spider bites a person, it’s usually:

  • Accidental
  • Due to the spider feeling threatened


  • Pain in the bite area
  • Swelling around the bite


  1. Wash the bite area with soap and water
  2. Apply a cold compress or ice pack to reduce swelling
  3. If necessary, take over-the-counter pain relievers


Nursery Web Spider (Pisaura mira) Other Dangerous Spiders
Mildly venomous Highly venomous
Minor pain and swelling Intense pain, potential for severe symptoms and complications

In summary, nursery web spiders and their venoms are not a significant concern for human health. While their bites may cause mild pain and swelling, they can typically be treated easily and are not considered dangerous.

Scientific Classification

The Nursery Web Spider belongs to the family Pisauridae, which is a part of the large group of arthropods known as spiders. They can be found in various locations, including a wide distribution across North America, such as in Iowa and other states.

These spiders are known for their unique features, such as:

  • Long legs
  • Slender bodies
  • Lengthwise striping
  • Spinnerets for producing silk

Although not known to be aggressive, Nursery Web Spiders are skilled hunters. They do not create intricate webs like many other spiders. Instead, they prefer to actively hunt and capture their prey during the day.

Nursery Web Spiders differ from another common spider family, Orb Weavers (Araneidae), in several aspects:

Feature Nursery Web Spider (Pisauridae) Orb Weavers (Araneidae)
Hunting Active during the day Weave intricate webs
Body Long legs, slender body Various shapes & sizes
Silk Primarily for egg sac protection Used in web construction

In conclusion, Nursery Web Spiders are fascinating creatures with distinct features and hunting strategies. They play an essential role in their ecosystems by controlling insect populations.

Identification and Accuracy

Nursery web spiders (Family Pisauridae) can be identified by their distinct features. Here are some characteristics to help you identify them more accurately:

  • Yellowish-brown body color
  • Gray bands or markings on the legs
  • Long, slender legs

These spiders are commonly found in gardens or near homes during late-spring and early summer1. Knowing how to identify them accurately is essential to have the right information about their behavior and habitat.

One interesting aspect of nursery web spiders is that they can be cannibalistic2. This means they may prey upon other spiders, including their mates. So, knowing how to identify them accurately helps to understand their predatory behavior better.

In some cases, nursery web spiders may cause painful bites when they come into contact with humans3. Although they are not considered dangerous, it’s useful to know the difference between them and other spiders.

Please note that it’s vital to have accurate information to avoid confusion or panic when dealing with spiders. Misidentifying a nursery web spider could lead to unnecessary concerns or taking incorrect actions. Just remember to look for the yellowish-brown body color, gray markings on the legs, and slender legs while trying to identify them.


  1. Missouri Department of Conservation 2
  2. Cannibalism in spiders
  3. Spider Bites: Treatment, Symptoms, and Identification


  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. 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.

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  • 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
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