Orb or Wheel weaving spiders
This is the family of spiders that makes the well-known orb-webs and are therefore called orb-weavers or wheel weaving spiders.
You do not suspect a spider in this wooly stick hanging in the air. But a closer look reveals the scorpion-tailed spider. The female spider is around 15 mm large and the male is almost invisible and is only 2-3 mm long. The colour differs markedly with age. From pinkish-brown, dark pink-orange-brown and dark-yellow.
Arachnura higginsi Scorpion-tailed spider
|Arachnura higginsi by Wendy Eiby WA||Arachnura higginsi by Wendy Eiby WA|
|Araneus cyphoxis by Wendy Eiby WA||Araneus cyphoxis by Wendy Eiby WA|
|Araneus cyphoxis by Wendy Eiby WA||Araneus brisbanae Jamberoo NSW (photo by nic van Oudtshoorn)|
|Backobourkia heroine (previous name Araneus and Eriophora heroine)||Araneus ZZ430 by Farhan Bokhari|
|Araneus talipedatus by Farhan Bokhari|
The common name of these spiders is 'ambush' or' triangular' spider.
Nine species are described. They do no build a web. They are placed in the same family as the wheel-web weavers because of their body structure. The size of the female is about 9 mm, the male is only 5 mm.
Arkys cornutus by Michael Barrit
Arkys ZZ452 WA by Wendy Eiby
See also Argiopes from: Europe, USA.
This very well known spider is also known under the name 'garden spider'.
The spiders of this family are easily identified by the zig-zag silk construction (stabilimentum), usually a cross, they make in their web. This in contrast to the in apprearance similar genus Gea that does not weave a zig-zag of silk in its orb web.
|Argiope keyserlingi||Argiope keyserlingi|
|Paperly looking egg-sac of Argiope keyserlingi||Under side of Argiope keyserlingi|
|Argiope protensa ready to bite in her wrapped prey|
| Argiope picta. Female and male. The male is not as beautiful as the female and is only 5 mm. Females measure up to 14 mm.
The female is almost identical with Argiope keyserlingi that has smaller and more white spots and read band across her abdomen. Argiope picta lives in the northern part of Australia and Argiope keyserlingi more south.
The shape of the stabilimentum changes with the age of the spider. First it starts with a circular white web in the center. Later it changes to a cross and when the spider is full-grown only a small zig-zag remains.
|Argiope syrmatica webbing its prey.|
Argiope syrmatica and Argiope protensa are almost identical. The common name of Argiope protensa is tear-drop spider because of its elongated body ending in a point..
They are found between grasses. Thir webs sometimes have an irregular zig-zag of silk in the center of their web .
Argiope protensa QLD by Robert Whyte
|Argiope syrmatica dorsal site WA||Argiope syrmatica ventral site WA|
|Argiope protensa? WA||Argiope protensa? WA|
|Argiope extensa||Argiope extensa|
|Argiope ocyaloides||Argiope ZZ077|
|Argiope ocyaloides by Marie Herbenstein||Argiope ocyaloides by Robert Whyte|
|Argiope ocyaloides WA||Argiope radon (Katherine Gorge, Northern Territory)|
|Argiope radon male and female (NT)||Argiope radon (Katherine Gorge, Northern Territory)|
|Argiope trifasciata WA||Argiope trifasciata also occurs in Europe. This one is from the Canaries|
Argiope ZZ307 Karinji NP WA
|Argiope ZZ307 Karinji NP WA|
|Argiope ZZ307 Karinji NP WA||Argiope ZZ307 male Karinji NP WA|
Genus Austracantha (previous Gasteracantha)
|These colorful six-spined spiders build a vertical wheel web with 20 - 30 radii and a very close spiral design.|
|Austracantha minax female and male.
The six-spined, Christmas or jewel spider or Austracantha minax. The female is about 8 mm long, cream colored with white and black while the male is only 3 mm long and white and black.
|Austracantha minax||Austracantha minax with prey by Trevor Murray|
These spiders of around 5 - 13 mm are difficult to find. During day-time they rest on twigs. During the night they catch prey in orb webs with closely arranged spiral threads. The web can be 60 cm in diameter for Carepalxis coronata that lives north of Sydney up to Queensland. The spider breaks down her web in the morning.
|Cat-faced Carepalxis tuberculata by John Mansfield NSW seen from behind|
|Carepalxis tuberculata by John Mansfield NSW||Carepalxis tuberculata by John Mansfield NSW|
These often beautiful colored spiny orb weaver spiders construct often large orb webs in relation their size.
The size of males is around 4 mm while the females reach a length of around 10 mm.
|Gasteracantha fornicata from above and from below.|
|Gasteracantha fornicata makes a large orb web|
|Gasteracantha westringi , rainbow spiny orb weaver from NT ( by Machael Barrit)||Gasteracantha westringi , rainbow spiny orb weaver from NT (photo by Vicki Braddy)|
This is a new described genus.
|Backobourkia ZZ449 by Wendy Eiby WA||Backobourkia ZZ449|
|Backobourkia heroine||Backobourkia heroine|
Celaenia excavata is better known as 'Bird-dropping' or 'Bird-dung' spider because it resembles it. An other common name is 'Orchard spider'.
|Celaenia excavata (C. kinbergii)||Celaenia excavata (C. kinbergii)|
|Celaenia excavata NT by Michael Barrit||Celaenia calotoides QLD by Robert Whyte|
|Celaenia calotoides QLD by Robert Whyte||Celaenia calotoides QLD by Robert Whyte|
This genus also makes a marking in its web like the Argiope but instead of a cross it makes a circular marking. The small elongated species of Cyclosa, usually about 6 mm long, have conical humps at the end of the abdomen. Through the center of the snares, furnished with many radii and closely set spirals, often lies a stabilimentum consisting largely of the remains of insects and debris tied together with silk.
Cyclosa insulana ranges from the Mediterranean to Australia.
|Cyclosa ZZ085||Cyclosa ZZ086|
|Cyclosa tribolata WA by Wendy Eiby||Cyclosa tribolata WA by Wendy Eiby|
This orb-web spider that resembles the Arkys triangular spider.
Genus Cyrtophora Tent-web spiders
These spiders are closely related to orb-web spiders. See more here
Although wide-spread Dolophones prefer natural bush land situations. These spiders have short legs and a heart shaped abdomen which is flat and broad.
They are called 'wrap around spider" because they wrap around a twig when in rest. Their coloring matches the color of the twig and they are therefore very difficult to spot.
The skin has a rough texture, often bearing nobles and scab-like protuberances.
One species, Dolophones turrigera, bears a turret-like projection on front of its abdomen which gives the otherwise crab-like outline a bizarre appearance.
This genus resembles the genera Heurodes and Poltys.
|Dolophones turrigera||Dolophones turrigera Sydney (photo by Guy Pollock)|
|Dolophones tuberculata Jamberoo NSW (photo by Nic van Oudtshoorn)||Dolophones conifera (Photo by Jeanie Clarck) VIC|
|Dolophones ZZ020 Photo by Robert Whyte||Dolophones ZZ423 picture by Farhan Bokhari|
Formerly called genus Araneus. These are the common garden spiders that make that familiar vertical orb-web usually at face level.
The web is usually renewed after a night's use and renewed the next evening. During the day the spiders remain in a hiding nearby.
Males are the same size as females but with a slender abdomen, long legs and conspicuously clubbed palps.
|Eriophora transmarina has a brown/orange/red body densely covered with grey and white hairs. The spider can vary widely in colour and pattern. The female (20-25 mm) is considerably larger than the male (15-17 mm). The spider sits during the night in her web and retreats during the day. Her web is made between 1 and 2 meterabove the ground can measure up to 70 cm in diameter. The female makes an oval shaped egg-sac of 20 * 30 mm that contains 200-300 eggs with a diameter of 1 mm.|
|Eriophora transmarina?||Eriophora transmarina|
|Eriophora transmarina?||Eriophora transmarina?|
|Eriophora transmarina?||Eriophora ZZ266 transmarina?|
|Eriophora ZZ328 WA||Eriophora ZZ328 WA|
|Eriophora ZZ068||Eriophora ZZ099|
|Eriophora ZZ091||Eriophora ZZ097|
|Eriophora heroine now Backobourkia heroine (previous name Araneus heroine)||Eriophora ZZ075|
|Eriophora hamiltoni female||Eriophora hamiltoni male|
|Eriophora ZZ196||Eriophora ZZ114|
|Eriophora ZZ368||Eriophora ZZ137|
|Eriophora ZZ367||Eriophora ZZ267|
|Spiders of this genus are similar in apprearance with Argiope. These spiders do not make a zig-zag stabilimentum in their webs are the spiders are often not so beautifully colored and smaller in size.||Gea theridioides male on the back of my hand|
|Gea theridioides||Gea theridioides|
|Gea theridioides||Gea theridioides by Robert Whyte|
|Larinia phthisica||Larinia ZZ268|
|This spider lives in a vertical orb web that is made in tall grass. The female is around 9 mm long and the male is a little smaller.|
The bolas spider belongs to the famous set of Australian spiders, like the Sydney funnel web, the Red back and the jumping spider Portia.
The Bolas spider belongs to the family of orb weavers. But it does not make a orb web to catch prey but uses hís bolas instead. The Bolas spider also uses a rope, in this case a silken thread, and instead of a weight a sticky blob is attached at the end of the silken string.
Its prey is moths. To catch moths the spider releases moth specific pheromones – an odour, in this case three chemicals, that is released by the female moths to attract males. If a moth approaches, the spiders detects the vibration caused by the wing beats with its long sensitive hairs on its legs. It start swaying its bolas vividly in all direction below her. Moths attracted by the pheromones get glued to the sticky blob and are caught by the spider. By attracting only males with the pheromone the spider obviously does not catch female moths.
The spider is nocturnal like the moth it catches. During the day the spider hides in a web usually between one and two meters above the ground in scrub.
Three species occur in Australia mainly in NSW and QLD: Ordgarius magnificus, Ordgarius monstrosus and Ordgarius furcatus.
On the right Ordgarius magnificus hanging above it bolas thread. In the enlargement one can see there are smaller droplets of glue above the large 'bolas' droplet to maximize sticking of the moth to the thread.Ordgarius magnificus
Pictures by Greg Anderson
Genus Heurodes (old name Acroaspis)
Heurodes ZZ302 (WA)
Heurodes (Acroaspis) is wide-spread in Australia and includes at least 15 or so species. However, species identification is currently impossible as the genus has not been taxonomically revised yet. The spiders look spectacular in their web at night. During the day, they motionless sit on a branch of a tree and cannot be distinguished from a little branch or bud. Birds will have a hard time finding these during the day.
|Neoscona ZZ088 male|
|Neoscona ZZ087||Neoscona ZZ088|
|Neoscona ZZ089||Neoscona ZZ098|
|Neoscona ZZ095||Neoscona ZZ094|
|Neoscona ZZ100||Neoscona ZZ088 male|
Phonognatha graeffei, leaf-curling or leaf-rolling spider, builds an orb web with a curled leaf retreat or sometimes a snail shell in the upper part of the web. The web is renewed every night. Young spiders make their retreat from a living leaf.
Ed Nieuwenhuys, Ronald Loggen, Jurgen Otto, Robert Whyte
8 June 2013
Copyright ã 1997-2013
8 March 2011, 20 August 2010, 13 February 2010, July 2009, April 2008, January 2008, November 19, 2002, May 2005, Sept 2006, May 2007,12 april 1997