Long-jawed Orb Weaver (Tetragnatha spp.)

Elongated Long-jawed Orb Weaver (Tetragnatha elongata)

The Elongated Long-jawed Orb Weaver (Tetragnatha elongata), shown above, is typical of a spider in the Large-jawed Orb Weavers family (Tetragnathidae) and the Araneae order. The members of this genus are sometimes called "stretch spiders" because of their elongated body. The order name is from the Latin for spider. The family and genus names mean "four jaws." The species name refers to the elongated body. This spider is found near or on water. It can run across the surface of water. Three pairs of its four pairs of legs are at least twice the length of its body. The fourth leg pair, number three, are much shorter. Leg pairs on spiders are numbered from front to back beginning with the front middle pair. The long legs enable this spider to hide behind a blade of grass or a twig by extending its legs. In spite of the family and genus name, the Elongated Long-jawed Orb Weaver has only two jaws (chelicera) but they are very long and have many teeth.

Elongated Long-jawed Orb Weaver (Tetragnatha elongata) Detail

The body is from ¼ inch (6 millimeters) long in the male and 3/8 inch (9 millimeters) long in the female. The abdomen is light brown with lengthwise, darker stripes. The long legs are usually extended as it clings to the web or a plant. The Elongated Long-jawed Orb Weaver weaves a small orbital web that is tilted. The beadlike silk is ejected and spun from the anal area at the rear tip of the body. Its food is insects trapped by the web. The Elongated Long-jawed Orb Weaver waits at the center of the web until food is caught.

The female Elongated Long-jawed Orb Weaver deposits her eggs on a nearby leaf. She does not guard the eggs. When the eggs hatch, the spiderlings spin their own webs separate from the mother's web.

The photographs on this page were taken in a canoe on French Hill Pond. The underside of the spider is shown. There are 17 species in this genera.

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