Arachnids of North Carolina
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View Linyphiidae Members: NC Records

Erigone autumnalis Emerton, 1882 - a dwarf spider


Taxonomy
Order: ARANEAEInfraorder: AraneomorphaeSubfamily: ErigoninaeFamily: Linyphiidae                                                                                 
Species Comment: Emerton, in first describing the species in 1882, commented that "This species is common on fences in October and November, I have also found a few specimens under leaves in woods. Kaston (1948) also noted their predilection for fences, observing that, in addition to their being found under leaves, they can be found "ballooning from fences." Muma (1943) reported "They may be found late in the fall in tufts of grasses near streams or ballooning through the air on a strand of silk. This species is known as the ballooning spider." In fact, Forster (1971) reported a ballooning male specimen "captured in the aerial nets at Marble Point, Antarctica on 21 February 1960."! (He speculated that the specimen had been a stowaway, and thought the "source of this spider must be either from a ship or from stores brought in..."
Identification
Online Description/Photos: BugGuide, Google Images, iNaturalist, Wikipedia, GBIFTechnical Description: Emerton, J. H. (1882). New England spiders of the family Theridiidae. Transactions of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences 6: 1-86. Forster, R. R. (1971). Notes on an airborne spider found in Antarctica. Pacific Insects Monographs 25: 119-120. Kaston, B. J. (1948). Spiders of Connecticut. Bulletin of the Connecticut State Geological and Natural History Survey 70: 1-874. Muma, M. H. (1943). Common spiders of Maryland. Natural History Society of Maryland, Baltimore, 179 pp.
Comments: Although the protruding chelicerae are easily seen, positive ID requires microscopic examination, owing to the spiders' tiny size.
Total Length: Females 1.4-1.7mm; males 1.0-1.5mmAdult ID: identifiable by photo of specific features and/or supplementary info
Structural photos
Distribution in North Carolina
Comments: Canada; Maine to Florida, west to Kansas and Texas. Central America to Panama. Introduced to Azores, Europe, United Arab Emirates, and New Caledonia.
County Map: Clicking on a county returns the records for the species in that county.
Adult phenology:
 High Mountains (HM) ≥ 4,000 ft.
 Low Mountains (LM) < 4,000 ft.
 Piedmont (Pd)
 Coastal Plain (CP)

Click on graph to enlarge
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: old field; sifted from moss near ditch. Frequently found under fallen leaves.
Observation Methods: Johnston Co. specimens frequently taken in Berlese samples of soil & leaf litter in residential neighborhood.
Abundance/Frequency: Very common, but easily overlooked due to its small size.
Behavior: Owing to one of their commonly observed behaviors, Muma (1943) referred to this species as "the ballooning spider."
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks:
State Protection:
Comments:

Photo Gallery for Erigone autumnalis - a dwarf spider

Recorded by: Carol Tingley
Durham Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Donald Zepp
Johnston Co.
Comment: Berlese of leaf litter beneath Euonymus alatus
Recorded by: Carol Tingley
Durham Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Carol Tingley
Durham Co.
Comment:
Recorded by: Donald Zepp
Wilson Co.
Comment: Female. Berlese sample gathered from edge of roadside woods, near creek, 02 Jan 2022. Sample extracted 07 January 2022.
Recorded by: Carol Tingley
Durham Co.
Comment: Floodplain leaf litter
Recorded by: Carol Tingley
Durham Co.
Comment: Floodplain leaf litter
Recorded by: Carol Tingley
Durham Co.
Comment: Floodplain leaf litter
Recorded by: Donald ZEPP
Johnston Co.
Comment: Adult female. Berlese sample of misc. leaves
Recorded by: Donald ZEPP
Johnston Co.
Comment: Adult female. Berlese sample of misc. leaves
Recorded by: Donald ZEPP
Johnston Co.
Comment: Adult female. Berlese sample of misc. leaves
Recorded by: Donald ZEPP
Johnston Co.
Comment: Adult male. Berlese: soil & leaf litter on concrete at foot of residential steps
Recorded by: Donald ZEPP
Johnston Co.
Comment: Adult male. Berlese: soil & leaf litter on concrete at foot of residential steps
Recorded by: Donald ZEPP
Johnston Co.
Comment: Adult male. Berlese: soil & leaf litter on concrete at foot of residential steps