First ever spotting of a spitting spider in Sweden
”We find two maybe three new spider species every year, but to discover a whole new family is very very unusual”, says Mikael Sörensson who works at the Department of Biology at Lund University.
It was in April that he discovered the little, five millimetre long, spitting spider in his own flat. A less knowledgeable person would probably not have noticed the unusual spider. Thanks to Mikael Sörensson it now counts as spider family number 38 in Sweden.
Harmless to people
Spitting spiders have six eyes unlike most other spiders that have eight. The spitting spider has black spots on its body and long legs. Previously it has been found on other continents and in central and southern Europe. And in Denmark. Mikael Sörensson’s finding is the first ever in Scandinavia.
Spitting spiders are nocturnal and they don’t weave a web to catch their prey. Instead the spider shoot two sticky and poisonous threads from its jaw. The threads are sprayed in a zigzag pattern at a tiny insect before the spider kills off its prey.
”It is totally harmless to people”, Mikael Sörensson says.
Hitchhiked across the bridge?
Sometimes insects travel with the wind, but Mikael Sörensson find that unlikely in this case because ”his” spider was found indoors. The proximity to Denmark is a more a plausible explanation, and he thinks that the spider might have hitchhiked to Sweden.
Even if the first finding in Denmark occured more than 60 years ago, it is still rare to come across it. If it is spotted in Denmark it is often in bathrooms.
Researchers know about eight different species of spitting spiders in Europe. The species that now has reached Sweden is Scytodes thoracica, the same one that has been found in Denmark.
There are 63 registered spider families in Europe. In the world there are about 42000 species distributed over 114 families.