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Ground crab spiders
Temporal range: Palaeogene–present
Spider March 2008-1.jpg
Xysticus sp.
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Chelicerata
Class: Arachnida
Order: Araneae
Infraorder: Araneomorphae
Family: Thomisidae
Genus: Xysticus
L. Koch, 1835

X. abditus
X. cristatus
X. croceus
X. erraticus
X. humilis
X. lanio
X. triguttatus
X. ulmi
 hundreds more

353 species

Xysticus is a genus of ground crab spiders described by C. L. Koch in 1835, belonging to the order Araneae, family Thomisidae; the genus name is derived from the Ancient Greek root xyst, meaning "scraped, scraper".


The genus Xysticus is distributed almost worldwide, but has not been recorded from South America. Of the about 360 species of the genus currently described, about 71 are present in Europe.


Xysticus and Coriarachne are dark brown or reddish-brown crab spiders often encountered on weeds or trees. While similar to the 'flower spiders', they tend to have shorter, sturdier legs. Many, but not all, species have abdomens more patterned than most Thomisus species, rather like some of the Synema species; some however, that are more terrestrial, resemble earth in colour and texture.

A ground crab spider with earthy coloration

Most species of the genus Xysticus are small to medium sized spiders, they show a sexual dimorphism in size. Females of typical species reach a maximum of 10 millimetres (0.39 in) of body length, while their males are about 3–5 millimetres (0.12–0.20 in) long, about half the size of the females.

The basic colour of these species is usually brown, beige or gray; the prosoma is sometimes slightly smaller than the opisthosoma. In many species the front body shows in the middle a broad, pale longitudinal band; the opisthosoma is clearly flattened in most species and shows a median broad and dark leaf marking.

The species are often very similar to each other, and in most cases can be distinguished only by a microscopic examination of the reproductive organs.


The spiders of the genus Xysticus do not build webs; like most Thomisidae they are ambush hunters and prefer to hunt near the ground (hence the common name "ground crab spiders"), they move slowly, and commonly hunt by stationing themselves in a high-traffic area and grabbing whatever arthropod passes close enough. Also like most other Thomisidae, they seize prey with their enlarged anterior two pairs of legs and kill it by a venomous bite.



  • Norman I. Platnick - Thomisidae
  • J. H. Redner and C. D. Dondale - A New Species of The Spider Genus Xysticus (Araneae: Thomisidae) From Arizona - PsycheVolume 72 (1965), Issue 4, Pages 291-294
  • H. Demir, O. Seyyar, and M. Aktaş - A Poorly Known Species of the Spider Genus Xysticus C. L. Koch (Araneae, Thomisidae) in Turkey - Arch. Biol. Sci., Belgrade, 60 (4), 17P-18P, 2008

External links[edit]

Data related to Xysticus at Wikispecies
Media related to Xysticus at Wikimedia Commons