Of the two species called Nursery Web Spider, this is the more common. These spiders are usually a bit over ½ inch in length, with a dark brown stripe bordered by thin light lines down their backs. The stripe varies from distinct to almost the same color as the rest of the spider's body. Nursery web spiders do not make a permanent web except to protect their young after they hatch. The female carries her round egg sac in her jaws, then continues to protect the young until they have undergone their second molt. At this stage, they leave the nursery and are on their own.
This species is often seen resting on leaves or flowers. It frequently holds its legs together in pairs, so that it might appear to have only four legs at first.
The nursery web spider resemble wolf spiders, but they carry their egg sacs by means of their jaws and pedipads instead of sttaching them to their spinnerets. When the eggs are about to hatch, a mother spider will build a nursery "tent," put her egg sac inside, and mount guard outside. The name nursery web spider is especially given to the European species Pisaura mirabilis, but the family also includes fishing spiders and raft spiders.
Unlike the wolf spiders, which have two very prominent eyes in addition to the other six, the eyes of the nursery web spiders are more or less the same size. Many species are able to walk on the surface of still bodies of water, and may even dive beneath the surface for a time to escape enemies. In escaping predators, they may very well jump a distance of five or six inches. However, they do not find it easy to make their way up extremely smooth surfaces such as glass. The female spider will sometimes attempt to eat the male after mating. The male, to reduce the risk of this, will often present the female with a gift such as a fly when approaching in the hope that this will satisfy her hunger.