Spider of the year 2016
Cyclosa conica (Pallas, 1772)
Cyclosa conica (Pallas, 1772) belongs to the family of true orb-weavers (Araneidae). This family has 3,099 species world-wide, of which 131 are found in Europe. The genus Cyclosa is represented by two species in Central Europe.
Cyclosa conica is found throughout Europe. Its vertical distribution reaches to the upper montane region, about 1,600 m above sea level. The species prefers well-lit coniferous forests, where they can locally occur in high abundance. You can also find them on forest paths and in dry meadows. In Central Europe the species is not considered endangered.
Cyclosa conica constructs a circular, very regular and tightly meshed orb web, usually positioned about 1.5 meters above the ground. In the middle of the web the spider makes a thickly-spun, vertical band called the stabilimentum. The spider sits on this structure and often weaves in plant debris or the remains of its prey. For this reason members of the genus Cyclosa are sometimes called „trash line spiders“. When sitting on the silk construction full of prey remains the spider itself is often difficult to see. If disturbed, the spider can also vibrate the web such that its outline almost completely vanishes.
Both males and females are active from spring (March/April) through to autumn (September/October). Eggs are laid in midsummer and placed on a twig close to the web; the egg sac being surrounded by shiny yellowish threads.
The body length is about 6-8 mm for females. Males are a little smaller at 4-4.5 mm, thus the species shows distinct sexual dimorphism. The cephalothorax is largely dark-brown to black; the legs are dark brown with black rings. The abdomen is variably coloured, dorsally dark red-brown to black, often with a white pattern, and ventrally dark brown with two elongate white patches. The abdomen ends in a conical tubercle (which gives the species its name!) which projects backwards over the spinnerets.
Why was Cyclosa conica chosen as the European Spider of the Year? The main reason is the distinctiveness of this species. The conical abdomen makes it easy to recognise and the very regular and closely woven web with its long stabilimentum also helps identification. Through choosing the Spider of the Year we not only hope that a less popular group of animals will be brought to the fore, but we also hope that researchers can obtain new data about its current distribution. In this context, enjoy the Spider of the Year and help us with your locality records or photographic documentation of this species.
The European Spider of the Year is chosen by 78 arachnologists from 26 European countries. Co-ordination is via the Natural History Museum of Vienna together with the ‘Arachnologischen Gesellschaft’ (AraGes) and the European Society of Arachnology (ESA).
Christoph Hörweg & Jason Dunlop
Contact for Europe
Dr. Milan Řezáč
Biodiversity Lab, Crop Research Institute
161 06 Praha 6 – Ruzyně
Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland.
ARABEL – Belgische Arachnologische Vereniging (link)
ARAGES – Arachnologische Gesellschaft – (link)
BAS – The British Arachnological Society – (link)
CAS – Česká arachnologická společnost – (link)
ESA – European Society of Arachnology – (link)
GIA – Grupo Ibérico de Aracnología GIA – (link)
NATURADATA – Biodiversidade online – (link)
SPINED – European Invertebrate Survey-Nederland – (link)
Maps and Photos
– Bellmann H 2006 Kosmos-Atlas der Spinnentiere Europas – 3. Auflage. Kosmos Stuttgart. 304 pp.
– Blick T, Bosmans R, Buchar J, Gajdoš P, Hänggi A, Helsdingen P van, Růžička V, Staręga W & Thaler K 2004 Checkliste der Spinnen Mitteleuropas. Checklist of the spiders of Central Europe. (Arachnida: Araneae). Version 1. Dezember 2004 – (PDF)
– CSCF (Centre Suisse de Cartographie de la Faune) 2014 Fauna der Schweiz – Spinnentiere oder Arachniden (Skorpione, Pseudoskorpione, Spinnen, Weberknechte, Milben) – (link) bzw. Verbreitungskarte für C. conica: (link) (16. Dezember 2015)
Hänggi A, Stöckli E & Nentwig W 1995 Lebensräume mitteleuropäischer Spinnen. Charakterisierung der Lebensräume der häufigsten Spinnenarten Mitteleuropas und der mit diesen vergesellschafteten Arten – Miscellanea Faunistica Helvetiae 4: 1-459
– Nentwig W, Blick T, Gloor D, Hänggi A & Kropf C 2015 araneae – Spiders of Europe, version 01.2015 – (link) (26. Januar 2015)
– Reichholf JH & Steinbach G 1997 Die grosse Enzyklopädie der Insekten, Spinnen- und Krebstiere, Band 1. Bertelsmann Lexikon Verlag Gütersloh. 360 S.
– Staudt A 2015 Nachweiskarten der Spinnentiere Deutschlands (Arachnida: Araneae, Opiliones, Pseudoscorpiones) für Cyclosa conica – (link) (16. Dezember 2015)
– Thaler K & Knoflach B 2003 Zur Faunistik der Spinnen (Araneae) von Österreich: Orbiculariae p.p. (Araneidae, Tetragnathidae, Theridiosomatidae, Uloboridae). – Linzer biologische Beiträge 35: 613-655
– Tso IM 1998 Stabilimentum-decorated webs spun by Cyclosa conica (Araneae, Araneidae) trapped more insects than undecorated webs. – The Journal of Arachnology 26: 101-105
– World Spider Catalog 2015 World Spider Catalog, version 16.0. Natural History Museum Bern – (link) (26. Januar 2015)