Longjawed orbweavers are often called “stretch spiders” because they often rest with their two front pairs of legs stretched straight out in front of them, and the last pair outstretched behind. Combined with their slender bodies and gray, tan, brownish, rusty, yellowish, or green, variably marked coloration, they can hide easily while clinging to a blade of grass or other plant with their rather short third pair of legs. Even when resting in their webs, they often look like an ordinary small twig. As the name implies, the chelicerae (“jaws” or “fangs”) of this group are extra long, compared to those of other orbweavers. The chelicerae of males are especially long — the male and female grip each other’s chelicerae during mating — and the enlarged tips of his palps (fingerlike structures near the mouth) look a little like tiny boxing gloves.
There are about 15 species in this family in North America. To separate the species, one must examine fine anatomical details, such as the “teeth” of the chelicerae, the form of the sexual organs, and the relative positioning of the eyes.
Similar species: The orchard orbweaver (Leucauge venusta) is a common Missouri spider that is in the same family. It is usually yellow-green with a red, orange, or yellow dot on its belly, which is usually facing upward as they rest in their webs. Several other spiders also stretch lengthwise, but they generally do not build horizontal orb webs over water or share other characteristics with this genus.