Family Deinopidae (was Dinopidae)

Net-casting spider, stick spider or ogre-faced spider

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Two genera belong to this family, Deinopsis with seven species and Avella (=Menneus) with six species.
It are large slow moving stick-like spiders. The body is slender and coloured brown to greyish. They do not make permanent webs.


Genus Deinopsis


The net-casting spider is well equipped with two large eyes (and 6 smaller eyes) to see and catch prey, even in the dark. Picture by Jurgen Otto

Rectangular capture net op Deinopsis

The net-casting spider is a common spider and is also often seen in documentaries because of its unique way of catching prey. The spider positions itself, head down, and grasps the rectangular capture net with its four front legs. If a walking insect is detected, the net is pushed over the victim that gets ensnared. Flying insects, like moths, are caught by flicking the web backwards.
The web is made of non-sticky cribellate (woolly) silk. Insects gets entangled in the wooly structure


The spider relies heavily on its eye-sight. The eyes are arranged in three rows. Two of her eight eyes are extremely large.
The spider is active during the night and during the day she remains camouflaged on a tree bark. Her body length varies between 1.5 and 2.5 cm and they are light rusty brown coloured.

Female Deinopsis subrufa by Noel Witcombe NSW Detail of the catching web of the female Deinopsis subrufa by Noel Witcombe NSW

Female Deinopsis subrufa by Robert Bucinskas, Wollongong, Australia

Juvenile Deinopsis subrufa byRobert Whyte, QLD
Male Deinopsis subrufa by Eric Verstegen, Sydney Male Deinopsis subrufa by Robert Whyte, QLD
Deinopsis species from Sydney by Jurgen Otto  
Deinopsis ZZ414 male (note the palps) by Fahran Bokhari, Perth Deinopsis ZZ414 by Fahran Bokhari, Perth
Do NOT look into my eyes! Picture by Robert Whyte

Genus Avella (was Menneus)

These spiders are less commom and less known than the Deinopsis genus. Avella resemble the Deinopsis genus in behaviour and habits, but they are smaller. Their front eyes are not so big as Deinopsis.  
Avella angulata Avella angulata
Avella angulata female Avella angulata female
Avella angulata Avella despiciens
Avella angulata male by Robert Whyte Avella despiciens female by Robert Whyte
Avella ZZ626 Avella despiciens
Avella despiciens female by Robert Whyte
Avella despiciens
Avella ZZ626 by Greg Russell-Jones Avella despiciens female by Robert Whyte

 

For more information:
http://www.amonline.net.au/factsheets/netcasting_spider.htm
http://www.museums.org.za/bio/spiderweb/deinopidae.htm
http://www.geocities.com/brisbane_spiders/Deinopidae.htm
http://wildlife.faunanet.gov.au/factfile.cfm?Fact_ID=88

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Ed Nieuwenhuys, 1 March 2012

26 march 2011, Januari 4, 2009, 3 december 2006, 29 november 2006, November 3, 2005