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Spruce-fir Moss Spider Microhexura montivaga


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Spruce-fir Moss Spider
© Joel Harp/U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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Family: Dipluridae, Funnelweb Mygalomorphs view all from this family

Description 1/8" (3-5 mm). Tan to yellowish-brown to reddish-brown, hairy. Large body. Belongs to the group of primitive spiders commonly called tarantulas. Constructs tube-shaped webs.

Habitat Mature coniferous (spruce-fir) forest.

Range Southern Appalachian Mountains, western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee.

Endangered Status The Spruce-fir Moss Spider is on the U.S. Endangered Species List. It is classified as endangered in North Carolina and Tennessee. This species has strict habitat requirements: it lives in damp mats of moss growing on rocks in the deep shade of mature Fraser Fir and Red Spruce trees. These old-growth forests have been under attack for centuries, felled by timber interests and suffering from the effects of human dominance of the landscape. Recently, an introduced insect, the Balsam Woolly Adelgid, has been killing off fir and spruce trees, and the spider has declined as well. Only two populations of Spruce-fir Moss Spider are known to survive, one on Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina, the other on Mount LeConte, Tennessee.