Alberta, Canada
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Mesh-web Spider Family
Dictynidae
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General Description

By Nora Bryan

For most bugwatchers, getting to know the small spiders by the types of webs they weave is easier than trying to identify their mostly diminutive owners. This is certainly true of the tiny Mesh-web or Dictynid spiders. Dictynids make irregular mesh webs in crevices, under leaves and between plant stems or at branch ends. Some of the spiders that make irregular mesh webs in windowsill corners may be Dictynid spiders.

The discreet spiders are typically less than 5 mm large (1/4 in.), and these are the relatively large females. As is usual for spiders, the male is much smaller. These spiders are somewhat unique in that they possess a cribellum, which is a kind of a sieve in front of the spinnerets. If you get a very, very close and personal look at the spider, you can tell that it is a Dictynid spider by it's eye arrangement. Eye arrangement is an important starting point for spider ID. Dictynids have the usual eight eyes in two rows. Six of them are white and two are dark. Some Dictynids have just the six white eyes. Many have fairly large jaws for such little spiders. They are typically brown with tan coloured markings. Unusually for spiders, the male and female may remain together amicably in the web.

A typical group includes the Branch-tip spiders (Dictyna spp.). These cosmopolitan spiders are found at woodland edges and fields where their sticky irregular mesh webs adorn stiff plants and shrubs. The female hangs her eggs sac in the middle of the web in summer.

Of the more than 150 North American species, Alberta is home to perhaps a couple of dozen species.

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Where to find Mesh-web Spiders in Alberta   

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Mesh-web Spider Family Behaviour   

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Interesting Facts about Mesh-web Spiders   

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Mesh-web Spider Family Stories from our Readers   

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Mesh-web Spider Family Sounds

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Recent Mesh-web Spider Family Reports in Alberta


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Mesh-web Spider Family Hotspots in Alberta


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Allied Species found in Alberta