Spider city

Author
by Mark Norman
Publish date
7 December 2011
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Comments (2)

Mark is Head of Sciences at Museum Victoria. He's reporting back from Neds Corner in this series of blog posts.

One of the priority groups of animals for the Bush Blitz surveys is the primitive mygalomorph spiders, such as trapdoor spiders and tarantulas. This group of spiders have large fangs that point down and can only be used to pin and pierce their prey. The 'modern' spiders (araneomorphs) have fangs that turn towards each other, so can be used more easily to grab their prey. We found only one small mygalomorph spider species.

Mygalomorph spider Mygalomorph spider
Image: M Norman
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Wolf spiders are the other focus group for these surveys and we found them everywhere. Dr Barbara Baehr from Queensland Museum was the wolf spider expert on the team. On night walks the blue eye shine of hundreds of wolf spiders can be seen over the ground and in the trees. Some larger ones build trapdoors over their burrow, complete with a perfect hinged lid.

Wolf spider and burrow Left: Wolf spider | Right: Wolf spider burrow with trapdoor
Image: Patrick Honan | Mark Norman
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The huntsman spiders here were very impressive, being among the largest in Australia with the females reaching 20cm across. Close-up images showed that many had small red mites crawling over their bodies.

huntsman spider Huntsman spider
Image: David Paul
Source: Museum Victoria
 

A Redback Spider nest was found by BHP participant Paul Simper where a large female was guarding two round egg masses while the tiny attendant male sat nearby.

Redback Spider family A Redback Spider family - the large female is in the centre, with the small male to the left and an egg sac to the right.
Image: David Paul
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The list of other spider types at Neds Corner is long, and includes ant spiders, ant-mimicking spiders, jumping spiders, orb weavers, social spiders, crab spiders and cellar spiders.

Ant spider Ant spider (family Zodariidae).
Image: Mark Norman
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Bush Blitz is a biodiversity partnership discovery program between the Australian Government, BHP Billiton and Earthwatch Australia, that aims to document the plants and animals across Australia's National Reserve System. Museum Victoria also participated in Bush Blitz at Lake Condah in March 2011.

Links:

Parks Australia blog

Bush Blitz

Neds Corner Station

Comments (2)

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Barbara Baehr 9 December, 2011 13:39
Hi Mark, That looks great! Please let me know if you are interested in the Spider Highlights of Ned's corner which I did for Karen. I could send it to you per e-mail.
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Michael 20 February, 2012 07:41
Hello Mark, I must say that you have done an excellent with your post and really shared some very interesting and useful points about different kinds of spiders. I have been reading lots of blogs and articles about spiders and this is one of the best posts that I have seen till date.
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