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the web of life in southern Africa

Loxosceles (violin spiders)

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Ecdysozoa > Panarthropoda > Tritocerebra > Arthropoda > Arachnomorpha > Cheliceriformes > Chelicerata > Euchelicerata > Arachnida > Araneae > Araneomorpha > Family: Sicariidae

See also violin spider bites

Loxosceles can be grouped into cavernicolous (cave dwelling) and savannah species. One of the three cavernicolous species, Loxosceles parrami, associated with mining areas, has been artificially introduced into Gauteng homes and is responsible for many cases of human envenomations in the area. Loxosceles is uncommon within 20 - 50 kilometres of Cape Town and bites by this spider appear to be translocations.

Loxosceles sp. (Violin spider). [image N. Larsen ]

Loxosceles sp. (Violin spider). [image N. Larsen ]

Loxosceles are free ranging and nocturnal using only a few strands of silk as a retreat in caves or under rocks. Its free-ranging behaviour is what distinguishes it from the Pholcidae that are web-bound. Loxosceles are small with a body length of about 8 mm and long slender legs about 18 mm long. The carapace is relatively flat and slightly longer than wide and most species bear the characteristic dark violin-shaped marking. The cylindrical /oval abdomen is either plain or marked with light and dark patterns. In some species sand particles adhere to the cuticle but not to the same extent as Sicarius.

The eyes are arranged in 3 diads (contiguous groups of 2), closely spaced in a recurved row (where the outer edges of the row are placed behind the central part).

Loxosceles produces 3 to 4 egg sacs after a gestation period of 3 months, each containing about 15 eggs. The spiderlings mature after about a year and live for about 3 years.

Text by Norman Larsen