Female in resting position ©Danny Declercq

Nursery web spider

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Before mating the male of the Nursery web spider catches a fly, but doesn’t eat it! On the contrary, he wraps the prey with silk and turns it into a gift for the female. The female is distracted while opening and consuming the gift, allowing the male to mate. Sometimes the male even dares to give a fake gift such as an empty fly or a piece of flower. The female carries her egg sac in her fangs (wolfspiders use the spinnerets for that). When the eggs are about to hatch, the female constructs a dome-shaped nursery web. In there, she guards the egg sac and the newly hatched young.

Nursery web spiders (Pisauridae)


Nursery web spider (Pisaura mirabilis)

Web: the Nursery web spider doesn’t make a catching web, but is an active hunter, by using fangs and legs to immobilize prey.  

Habitat: often in open habitats with rather high vegetation such as roadsides, grasslands, forest edges. Also in the garden on taller grass.

How to recognize:

  • big spider with oblong body
  • colour yellow brown to grey brown
  • abdomen with variable colour. Often with a light midstripe with dark, undulating bands.
  • cephalothorax with a thin, light midstripe, ending in a small tuft of hair.

Looks similar to:

  • the Nursery web spider has a very characteristic appearance and is easily recognized


♀: 11-15 mm

♂: 10-13 mm


♀: May till August

♂: May till July