Eresus sandaliatus

Eresus sandaliatus: The Enigmatic Velvet Spider


Eresus sandaliatus, commonly known as the ladybird spider or velvet spider, is a fascinating and enigmatic species that belongs to the Eresidae family. Its captivating appearance and intriguing behavior have piqued the interest of arachnologists and naturalists alike. In this article, we will delve into the captivating world of Eresus sandaliatus and explore its taxonomy, morphology, behavior, and conservation status.

Taxonomy and Distribution

The ladybird spider, Eresus sandaliatus, is one of the many species belonging to the Eresus genus. These spiders are distributed across Europe, with E. sandaliatus predominantly found in Central and Northern Europe, including the United Kingdom. Their preferred habitats are well-drained heathlands and grasslands, where they can be found living in burrows.

Morphology and Appearance

Eresus sandaliatus exhibits sexual dimorphism, with males and females displaying distinct differences in size and coloration. Adult males have a striking appearance, measuring approximately 8-10mm in length, with a velvety black cephalothorax and abdomen adorned with vibrant red or orange markings. The vivid coloration gives the spider its common name, as it resembles the pattern found on ladybird beetles.

Females, on the other hand, are larger, with a body length of up to 16mm. They are predominantly black, with a velvet-like appearance, and lack the bright markings found on males. Both sexes have eight eyes arranged in two rows, with the anterior row being slightly curved.

Behavior and Ecology

Eresus sandaliatus is a solitary species and spends most of its life in its silk-lined burrow. The burrows are typically 5-15cm deep and are constructed by the spider using its chelicerae and pedipalps to excavate soil. The entrance is often camouflaged with debris and vegetation.

These spiders are ambush predators, relying on their cryptic appearance to capture prey. They primarily feed on insects, such as ants and beetles, that venture near their burrow entrance. When a suitable prey item is detected, the spider lunges out of its burrow, quickly immobilizing the prey with a venomous bite.

Reproduction in E. sandaliatus is unique compared to many other spider species. Mating occurs in spring, during which the smaller, brightly colored males leave their burrows in search of females. After locating a female’s burrow, the male engages in a courtship display, tapping and vibrating his body to signal his presence. If the female is receptive, she will allow the male to enter her burrow, where mating takes place.

Once the eggs are laid and encased in a silk sac, the female exhibits a remarkable level of maternal care. She remains with her eggs, protecting and grooming them until they hatch. After hatching, the spiderlings stay with their mother for several weeks before dispersing to create their own burrows.

Conservation Status

Eresus sandaliatus has experienced population declines in recent years, primarily due to habitat loss and fragmentation resulting from urbanization and agricultural intensification. The species is currently listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Conservation efforts, such as habitat restoration and management, are crucial for the survival of this enigmatic spider.


The ladybird spider, Eresus sandaliatus, is a fascinating creature with a unique appearance and behavior that sets it apart from other spiders. Despite facing threats from habitat loss, these charismatic arachnids continue to capture the imagination of naturalists and scientists alike. By understanding and appreciating their ecological role and significance, we can contribute to the conservation efforts needed to ensure the survival of this remarkable species.

Public awareness and education play a vital role in the conservation of Eresus sandaliatus and its habitat. By promoting the importance of biodiversity and the role of spiders in maintaining a healthy ecosystem, we can encourage a greater appreciation for these often misunderstood creatures.

In addition, supporting and participating in citizen science initiatives, such as species monitoring and habitat restoration projects, can contribute to the long-term conservation of the ladybird spider. Through these collective efforts, we can help preserve the unique and captivating world of Eresus sandaliatus for future generations to admire and study.

Ultimately, the conservation of Eresus sandaliatus is not only about preserving an individual species but also about preserving the intricate web of life found within its ecosystem. The fate of the ladybird spider is a reminder of our responsibility to protect the natural world, and our actions today will determine the future of these extraordinary creatures and the environments they call home.

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