Tetragnatha extensa

Another trawl through the depths of our species lists has snagged a long jawed spider, Tetragnatha extensa.

All the Tetragnatha species are stretch spiders: when disturbed or frightened they leave their web and stretch out along a leaf with their four front legs pointing forward and the four back legs pointing backwards. In this pose they look like a shred of grass stem or the dried rib of a leaf. It makes them very difficult to see, a clever defence against predators.

long jawed spider by S.Rae (CC BY 2.0) flickr.com

The genus name Tetragnatha means four jaws and while the long jawed spider does not actually have four jaws, the two that it does have are large and hinged. When mating, the male has to lock his hinged jaw onto the female to prevent her eating him.

The long jawed spider spins orb webs low down in wetland habitats, usually near water, where it catches flying insect prey. In the UK it is common and widespread.

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