Brief Summary

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The spider family Homalonychidae (dusty desert spiders) includes just two described species, both known from the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico (Crews 2005; Bradley 2013; Platnick 2013). These spiders live in the desert and chaparral and have been found under rocks and plant debris on rocky hillsides and washes. They are ground spiders and do not spin a capture web--they apparently do noteven use a dragline (Crews 2005). Females presumably use silk only for egg sacs and males for wrapping the female during copulation. Homalonychids have unusual stiff setae on their bodies and legs that trap sand and dirt particles (similar setae with the same function have evolved independently in the genus Sicarius [Sicariidae]; Duncan et al. 2007 and references therein). Crews (2009) documented a high degree of variation in the morphology of genitalic characters of both male and female Homalonychidae. Females and juveniles often sit motionless, partly buried in sand, making them difficult to detect. The potential lifespan is at least two years. (Crews 2005)

Roth (1984) reviewed knowledge of this family as of the early1980s. Vetter and Cokendolpher (2000) described the egg sacs of Homalonychus theologus and Alvarado-Castro and Jiménez (2011) provide a detailed account of the reproductive behavior of H. selenopoides, including the intriguing behavior in which the male wraps silk around part of the female. Domínguez and Jiménes (2005) describe the reproductive behavior and self-burying behavior of H. theologus. Crews and Hedin (2006) undertook a detailed phylogeographic study of Homalonychus in the Southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico.

Leo Shapiro
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