Long-Jawed Orb Weaver – T elongata

Long-Jawed Orb Weaver Spider – Tetragnatha elongata

color photo Tetragnatha elongata

Larger spiders in this family (of which this is one) are often found near water, especially moving water of rivers and streams. They build orb webs in the horizontal plane, often just inches above the surface of water where they can catch emerging insects like midges, mayflies, and stoneflies. Smaller species build webs in fields and meadows, often in trees and shrubs. [1]

I found many of these huge spiders at the edge of the west branch of the DuPage River at Warrenville, Illinois. They had long “lifeline”  of silken threads strung about in low foliage all along the edge of the water. They were using these webs as quick avenues between plants, and they moved quickly and easily great distances, seemingly through thin air.

color photo Tetragnatha elongata ventral view

Ventral view of enlarged chelicerae and elongated abdomen

Tetragnathid spiders are usually easy to identify by their eponymous huge, powerful chelicerae (jaws) and long, slender abdomen. Like the other family of orb weavers, the Araneidae, these spiders have eight eyes and 3 claws on each tarsus. There are about 25 species in North America [1].

The Venusta Orchard spider, a very common woodland arachnid, is a member of this family. The Venusta (after Venus, the goddess of beauty) spider is nearly ubiquitous in the forest understory here in northern Illinois where they sit upside down in their smallish (6-8 inches or so) horizontal orb webs. Their chelicerae are not nearly so prominent as other spiders in this family.

color photo Tetragnatha elongataBody length = 10mm

With ectoparasitic larvae


  1. Bugguide.net, Family Tetragnathidae – Longjawed Orb Weavers
  2. Bugguide.net, “Tetragnatha elongata

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