Pirate spider

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Pirate spiders
Temporal range: Palaeogene–present
Female Ero aphana
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Chelicerata
Class: Arachnida
Order: Araneae
Infraorder: Araneomorphae
Family: Mimetidae
Simon, 1881

See text.

12 genera, 152 species

Pirate spiders, members of the family Mimetidae, are araneomorph spiders which typically feed on other spiders.

The family Mimetidae contains roughly 200 species divided among 12 genera, of which Mimetus and Ero are the most common. Mimetids are usually yellow and brown and are usually 3 to 7 millimetres (18 to 14 in) long. Mimetids can be recognized by the rows of spine-like hairs on their long front legs; the rows consist of a long spine, followed by a series of progressively shorter ones.

Pirate spider female (Mimetidae sp.)
Female Mimetidae sp.

Mimetidae usually hunt by picking at the strands on their prey's web to simulate the movements of either a trapped insect or a potential mate. When their prey comes to investigate, they are instead captured and eaten. Some mimetids have been observed to feed on insects as well. The spider-feeding habit presents problems in mating, and little is known about how the males court females to avoid being eaten. However, some male mimetids in the genus Gelanor, found in South America, have enormously long appendages which they use to inseminate females.

Female Mimetus ryukyus


Pirate spiders are found in forests all around the globe, wherein the highest diversity is found in Central and Tropical South America.[1]


The Mimetidae are sometimes taxonomically grouped in the superfamilies Araneoidea or Palpimanoidea.[citation needed]


The categorization into subfamilies follows Joel Hallan's Biology Catalog.

  • Gnolus Simon, 1879 (South America)
  • Oarces Simon, 1879 (South America)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Benavides, Ligia R.; Giribet, Gonzalo; Hormiga, Gustavo (2017). "Molecular phylogenetic analysis of "pirate spiders" (Araneae, Mimetidae) with the description of a new African genus and the first report of maternal care in the family". Cladistics. 33 (4): 375–405. doi:10.1111/cla.12174. PMID 34715733. S2CID 89163032.
  • Platnick, N.I. & Shabad, M.U. (1993). A review of the pirate spiders (Aranae, Mimetidae) of Chile. American Museum Novitates 3074. Abstract - PDF (12Mb) (with color pictures of O. reticulatus male and female, G. cordiformis m/f, G. blinkeni f, G. zonulatus f, G. spiculator f, H. collusor f; new description of G. blinkeni)

External links[edit]