Monday, September 7, 2009

Long-Jawed Orb Weaver

Long-Jawed Orb Weavers are in the Family of spiders called Tetragnathidae, and the genus Tetragnatha. There are hundreds of spiders within this genus, most are tropical or sub-tropical. Several species are found in Missouri and one of the most common is the one pictured here called Tetragnatha extensa. This particular species is usually associated with water, like lakes, ponds, streams or river banks. The one pictured here was photographed near our pond, and there were many others in the area as well. It was quite long, the body was approximately and inch in length, but with those legs it was easily 3 or more inches long.
These spiders are sometimes referred to as "Stretch Spiders" from their habit of stretching their front and back legs out, giving them a stretched or elongated appearance. This allows them to hide on blades of grass or other weedy plants without being seen. They are truly adapted to life near water, not only do they build stringy webs near cattails and other aquatic vegetations, but if one should happen to fall into the water, no worries, they can walk on water. Provided of course they get a move on it, before a hungry bass or frog makes a meal out of them.

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