Cobweb spiders (Theridiidae) are one of the most diverse spider families, not only in terms of species numbers (>2200 described and many undescribed species), but also for the range of behavior, ecology, and morphology represented within the group. Theridiids include the widow spiders (genus Latrodectus), known for their potent venom and sexual cannibalism (females of some species typically eat the males during or shortly after mating). Sexual cannibalism is actually much more common in Tidarren and Echinotheridion, two genera where juvenile males amputate one of their two pedipalps (sperm transfer organs). Like Latrodectus, Tidarren and Echinotheridion have females much larger than males, a phenomenon known as sexual size dimorphism. Theridiids also include the majority of social spider species, which live in large colonies composed mostly of juvenile and adult females that cooperate in hunting, web building, and brood care. They include the largest group of kleptoparasitic spiders, which steel prey from other species.
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