Micrathena ruschii ( Mello-Leitão, 1945 )

Alvarenga, Alessandra Da Silva De, Magalhaes, Ivan L. F., Fonseca, Rodrigo Nunes Da & Pérez-González, Abel, 2020, Rectifying the identities of the males of two Micrathena species (Araneae Araneidae), with report of the first case of intersexuality in the genus, Zootaxa 4808 (1), pp. 151-164: 155-162

publication ID


publication LSID


persistent identifier


treatment provided by


scientific name

Micrathena ruschii ( Mello-Leitão, 1945 )


Micrathena ruschii ( Mello-Leitão, 1945) 

( Figs 2View FIGURE 2, 3View FIGURE 3, 4AView FIGURE 4, 5View FIGURE 5)

Acrosoma ruschii Mello-Leitão, 1945: 266  , figs. 7–9. [First synonymized with Micrathena triangularis  by Levi 1985: 512, revalidated by Magalhães & Santos 2011]

Micrathena cicuta Gonzaga & Santos, 2004: 332–334  , figs. 1–5. [Synonymy established by Magalhães & Santos 2011]

Micrathena ruschii: Magalhães & Santos 2011  [partim, only the females specimens examined]: 46–48, [males, figs. 17–19, misidentified after this work].

Type material: Acrosoma ruschii Mello-Leitão, 1945  : Female lectotype MNRJ 2566View Materials and three female paralectotypes MNRJ 4255View Materials, from Santa Tereza   GoogleMaps [19º55’S 40º35’W, 655 m a.s.l.], Espírito Santo, Brazil. Examined by ILFM, destroyed in the MNRJ fire of September 2, 2018.

Micrathena cicuta Gonzaga & Santos, 2004  : Female holotype IBSP 36322View Materials from Área de Relevante Interesse Ecológico Floresta da Cicuta   GoogleMaps, Volta Redonda   GoogleMaps [22º31’S 44º7’W, 390 m a.s.l.], Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Not examined, destroyed in the Butantan fire of May 2010.

Male-female association: Since 2011, three male specimens (listed below; Figs 2View FIGURE 2, 3View FIGURE 3, 4AView FIGURE 4) have been observed and collected on webs of females of Micrathena ruschii in Parque Municipal Atalaia, Macaé  , Rio de Janeiro State. The neighbor-joining dendrogram based on a COI fragment ( Fig. 1View FIGURE 1) confirms the conspecificity of male (A6) and female (A5) of M. ruschii collect  ed in Macaé (with 94% bootstrap support) and with a female of M. ruschii collect  ed in Itatiaia, Rio de Janeiro (99% bootstrap support). The male of M. rusch ii described in Magalhães & Santos (2011) from Parque Nacional do Itatiaia, Itatiaia, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, should be considered a misidentification and the specific identity of this specimen remains unknown (see Discussion below for details).

Diagnosis: Males of M. ruschii  are similar to other species of the plana  group (sensu Magalhães & Santos 2012) in having a rounded thoracic region, an abdomen with two dark bands in the lateral sides ( Fig. 2AView FIGURE 2), and a drop-shaped projection in the terminal apophysis ( Fig. 4AView FIGURE 4: tap). They can be further diagnosed by the combination of an acuminate tip of the terminal apophysis ( Fig. 4AView FIGURE 4: ta, vs. rounded in most other species), a rounded margin of the rim of the median apophysis [ Fig. 4AView FIGURE 4: m, vs. more square or hook-shaped in e.g. M. triangularis (C.L. Koch)  or M. excavata (C.L. Koch)  ], and a slender paramedian apophysis [ Fig. 4AView FIGURE 4: pm, vs. widened in e.g. M. brevispina (Keyserling)  ].

For the female diagnosis, see Gonzaga & Santos (2004).

Description: Male from Macaé, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (UFRJ 1519), Figs 2View FIGURE 2 A–C, 3, 4A. Carapace rounded, thoracic fovea a shallow, rounded pit. Coxal hook present, small. Leg macrosetae: ~7 macrosetae apically on femur I, ~4 apically on femur II, 1 retrolaterally on patellae I–II, 1 proventrally on tibia I. Abdomen rectangular, slightly wider anteriorly, tubercles absent. Coloration: carapace orange, with brown orange bands on lateral sides. Sternum, labium, endites and chelicerae orange. Legs brownish orange. Abdomen dorsum brownish cream, brown on the sides and posterior end, with two faint transverse markings; venter brownish cream with brown pigment on the sides and posteriorly to the spinnerets. Total length 4.63. Carapace length 2.04, width 1.63. Abdomen length 2.84, width 1.34. Leg I: femur (fe) 1.81, patella (pa) 0.55, tibia (ti) 1.24, metatarsus (mt) 1.07, tarsus (ta) 0.52. II: fe 1.49, pa 0.50, ti 0.90. III: fe 0.90, pa 0.31, ti 0.50. IV: fe 1.85, pa 0.38, ti 0.97, mt 1.10, ta 0.51. Genitalia ( Figs 3View FIGURE 3, 4AView FIGURE 4). Palpal tibia unmodified. Paracymbium large, bilobed, otherwise unmodified. Median apophysis large, composed of a large, bent, rounded rim; a gently curved lobe; and a sclerotized basal projection partially fused to the radix. Paramedian apophysis digitiform. Conductor folded, sclerotized; lobe absent. Terminal apophysis partially fused to the embolus and covering most of it, sclerotized, ending in a sharp tip, and bearing an unsclerotized drop-shaped projection. Embolus short, ending in a broad tip.

Female described by Gonzaga & Santos (2004).

Material examined: BRAZIL. Rio de Janeiro: Macaé, Parque Municipal Atalaia , 7.vii.2011  , A. Alvarenga leg., 1 ♂ 1 ♀ ( MACN-Ar 41526). Same locality, 18.vi.2012  , A. Alvarenga leg., 1 ♂ 1 ♀ ( MNRJ). Same locality, 10.i.2010, J. M. Guimarães, 1 intersexual individual and  1 ♀ ( MACN-Ar 41529, IFM-1948 voucher). Same locality, 9.vii.2010, biology class students leg  ., 1 ♀ ( UFRJ 1518). Same locality, 26.vi.2009, R. L. C. Baptista and biology class students leg  ., 1 ♂ ( UFRJ 1519)  .

Variation (in mm and average between parentheses).—Males (n=3): total length 4.58–4.71 (4.64), carapace length 1.93–2.04 (1.99), femur I length 1.81–1.90 (1.84).

Intersexual specimen: One specimen (MACN-Ar 41529) was interpreted as a case of intersexuality ( Fig. 5View FIGURE 5). This specimen has a morphological pattern similar to a normal male: a rounded carapace with the thoracic fovea in the form of a shallow rounded pit and a rectangular abdomen which is slightly wider anteriorly. It also exhibits a typical male coloration. However, the pedipalps are not fully developed (not showing any sclerites of the functional male palp) and resemble those of females but with the tarsus slightly elongated. Also, this specimen displays a sclerotized plate in the place of the female epigynum, but the plate is rudimentary and does not exhibit the morphological complexity of a fully developed epigynum. The leg spination is more reminiscent of that of females than that of males. The poor degree of development of the palps and epigynum support our classification that this is a case of intersexuality. This agrees with the intersexuality definition adopted by Roberts & Parker (1973) who considered intersex as cases in which, although parts of the spider may be predominantly female and other parts predominantly male, the distinction is less definite because certain organs, such as palps and epigynum, may be very poorly developed.

Micrathena lata Chickering, 1960 

( Figs 4B, CView FIGURE 4; 6View FIGURE 6)

Micrathena lata Chickering, 1960: 5  , figs. 8–12; Levi, 1985 [partim, only the females]: 565, figs. 608–612 [males, figs. 613– 615, misidentified after Magalhaes et al. 2017]

Type material: Micrathena lata Chickering, 1960  . Female holotype ( MCZ 21788View Materials) from Teresópolis [-27.747555° -48.919398°], Rio de Janeiro, Brazil [with no date of collection given]. Not examined.

Male-female association: The male has been associated to Micrathena lata  because it clearly belongs to the militaris group due to the possession of projections in the palpal tibia, laterally projecting paracymbium, and lack of a macroseta in the palpal patella (see Magalhães & Santos 2012), and Micrathena lata  is the only species of this group that occurs in the Atlantic Forest and is still known only by the female. Males and females have not been collected together but come from nearby localities (Puerto 17 de Octubre and San Javier, both in Misiones, Argentina, apart by ~ 225 km).

Diagnosis: Among species of the militaris group, the male of M. lata  resembles most those of Micrathena furcata (Hahn)  and Micrathena reimoseri Mello-Leitão  due to the large S-shaped embolus and the abdomen with two lateral dark bands. It differs from these two species by the more angled coils of the embolus ( Fig. 4BView FIGURE 4: e, vs. gently curved in the other species), by the distally expanded terminal apophysis ( Fig. 4BView FIGURE 4: ta, vs. even width throughout) and by the folded shape of the embolic membrane ( Figs. 2View FIGURE 2, 6View FIGURE 6: em, vs. absent).

For the female diagnosis, see Levi (1985).

Description: Male from Puerto 17 de Octubre, Misiones, Argentina (MACN-Ar 3866), Figs. 4B, CView FIGURE 4; 6View FIGURE 6. Carapace oval, thoracic fovea a shallow, rounded pit. Coxal hook absent. Leg macrosetae absent, except for a few thin, stiff setae on the venter of tibiae I–II. Abdomen trapezoidal, widest posteriorly, with two posterior folds resembling tubercles. Coloration: carapace light brown, with brown bands on lateral sides. Sternum, labium, endites and chelicerae cream. Legs brownish cream, except for light brown dorsum of femur I. Abdomen dark brown with a longitudinal, light brown median stripe on dorsum. Total length 3.44. Carapace length 1.42, width 1.03. Abdomen length 2.00, width 1.10. Leg I: fe 1.14, pa 0.37, ti 0.77, mt 0.70, ta 0.49. II: fe 1.14, pa 0.37, ti 0.69. III: fe 0.73, pa 0.24, ti 0.38. IV: fe 1.16, pa 0.28, ti 0.67, mt 0.67, ta 0.41. Genitalia ( Figs 4View FIGURE 4 B–C, 6). Palpal tibia with an apical, unbranched projection. Paracymbium large, bilobed, laterally projecting, otherwise unmodified. Median apophysis reduced to a lobed, unsclerotized basal projection partially fused to the radix. Paramedian apophysis absent. Conductor hookshaped, sclerotized; lobe rounded, membranous, covering the conductor in prolateral view. Terminal apophysis unfused to the embolus, large, membranous, distally broadened. Embolus long, S-shaped with acute loops, bearing a translucent membrane along most of its length; embolic membrane with a folded projection near the apex of the embolus.

Female described by Levi (1985).

Material examined: ARGENTINA. Misiones: Puerto 17 de Octubre [currently Puerto Libertad], De Carlo, Schiapelli, Viana & Galiano coll., X/1953, 1 ♂ ( MACN-Ar 3866); San Javier, 1 ♀, without further information ( MACN-Ar 33832)  .


Museu Nacional/Universidade Federal de Rio de Janeiro


Museum of Comparative Zoology














Micrathena ruschii ( Mello-Leitão, 1945 )

Alvarenga, Alessandra Da Silva De, Magalhaes, Ivan L. F., Fonseca, Rodrigo Nunes Da & Pérez-González, Abel 2020

Acrosoma ruschii Mello-Leitão, 1945: 266

Levi, H. W. 1985: 512
Mello-Leitao, C. F. 1945: 266

Micrathena cicuta

Gonzaga, M. O. & Santos, A. J. 2004: 334

Micrathena lata

Chickering, A. M. 1960: 5