Sunday, 7 February 2016

A spider jewel

A female jewel spider Austracantha minax
It's late summer, spider time.

I have been busy at the desk for most of January, hence the shortage of recent posts, but that is all part of my seasonal behaviour. When the sun is out at this time of year in Canberra, it is not much fun walking about in the hot bush, so I use the time to catch up on writing and editing photographs. Meanwhile, as the summer has progressed, the spiders have been more active and I found this little beauty spinning her web this morning, before it was too hot - for me that is not her.

She is a Jewel Spider, otherwise known as a Christmas spider as they are abundant from then on, or another name is spiny spider. I like that last name as it is so apt. They have six spines set around the hind edge of their abdomen. And the jewel name is apt too, as their glossy bodies catch the light, with all those little pin-spots of colour on the abdomen. Most of those are white on the dorsal, top, side and yellowish orange on the ventral, belly side. This spider is hanging upside down as she was walking along her silk threads, and as she has such a heavy abdomen, she was belly up.

They are only about 7-8 mm long and the abdomen is so large in proportion to the rest of her body that the cephalothorax can barely be made out in these photographs. Her legs are also quite long, and in the top image, the two hairy black pedipalps can just be made out at the front, between the legs. This spider was busy spinning a new web, a circular orb-type, suspended between some grasses about a metre tall. It was nice to see a bit of colour, in the dusty sunshine.

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