Frontinella Pyramitela – Bowl and Doily Spider

The bowl and doily spiders, known as Frontinella pyramitela, are a small species of spiders that belong to the family of Linyphiidae. The common name of these spiders comes from its peculiar webs that have a bowl shape with a sheet-web or blanket (doily) beneath it. Like other sheet web weavers, Frotinella pyramitela spiders can live up to one year. These forest-dwelling spiders are mostly seen in summer, between July and August.

Description

Bowl and doily spiders are small and have a large, round and shiny abdomen. The abdomen is dark brown or black along the top with thick white vertical lines on the sides that look almost like inverted commas. Towards the bottom of the abdomen, the white markings often turn into a yellowish color. The exact color differs between individuals with some being mostly dark and yellow while some don’t have any yellow colorations at all.

Female bowl and doily spider. Small spider with thin legs and white black and yellow abdomen
A female Frontinella pyramitela with its characteristic black, white and yellow abdomen. Photo: Christina Butler

The cephalothorax (head) is reddish brown and the legs are somewhat lighter brown. The legs are thin and appear relatively long.

Size

Like other Linyphiidae spiders, Frontinella pyramitela spiders are small spiders. Females reach a body size of up to 0.15 in (4 mm). The male spiders are slightly smaller than the females.

Web

These spiders can build large, distinct, and fascinating webs and they spin the webs usually several inches across, stretched between twigs. Male spiders hardly ever build webs but they cohabitate with females for extended periods of time.

Male and female bowl and doily spider Frontinella pyramitela
Male (left) and female (right) bowl and doily spider living together in one web. For now. Photo: Judy Gallagher

The webs of the bowl and doily spider consists of two elements: an upper “bowl” shape and a lower part, a flat sheet-web, the “doily”. The spider sits in the lower web and waits for small insects to fly or crawl into the bowl web. As soon as that happens, the spider bites the prey from the underside. This two layer system provides safety for the bowl and doily spider while it can still quickly bite and immobilize any potential prey that enters the web.

Frontinella Pyramitela - Bowl and Doily Spider web - dome-shaped with layer below
The webs of the bowl and doily spider are a common sight. Can you see the two layers? Photo Credit: Katja Schulz

Bite

The Frontinella pyramitela spiders aren’t dangerous to humans. Due to their small size, they only bite smaller insects and flies.

Distribution of the Bowl and Doily Spider

The bowl and doily spiders are common spiders throughout the continental United States except for the northern central region around the Dakotas. Namely, they can be found in the following states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Scientific classification of Frontinella pyramitela

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Arachnida
  • Order: Araneae
  • Infraorder: Araneomorphae
  • Family: Linyphiidae
  • Genus: Frontinella
  • Species: Frontinella pyramitela

References

Frontinella Pyramitela – Bowl and Doily Spider

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