The Jewelled Spider is also known by its Latin name -
Gasteracantha Minax, meaning "threatening and projecting".
They are also known as spiny orb weavers and are part of the orb weaving
spider family. This
spider's body is very broad and grows to the size of a 20c piece, with its 8
legs being the length of a pin (fairly short for a spider). Its abdomen is
strikingly coloured with bright yellow and white and black. Six stout spines
(long and sharp) come from the border of the abdomen.
spiders mostly can be found in tropical and subtropical regions of the world
including Australia. In Australia, this Jewelled Spider has been found in
all states including Tasmania and on numerous islands off the coast. It is
particularly common in the Summer months of January and February. These
spiders inhabit mostly shrub areas close to swamps and creeks. Many Jewelled
Spiders are solitary but the well known Christmas Spiders are frequently
found in colonies of communal webs which may number hundreds and even
thousands. These large colonies overlap one another among shrubbery in the bushland.
Jewelled Spiders spin a fine circular web (wheel-like) to snare their prey.
Their webs often overlap and are usually built a metre or two from the
ground. Their prey includes flying insects especially flies and communities
of these spiders are very social in that they share their prey no matter
whose web it lands on.
Like most spiders, the Jewelled Spider mates, the
female eats the males, the female lays eggs, the eggs hatch and the young
spiders are on their own from hatching. Sometimes they are carried away from
the web by the wind.
Spiders have a bite that gives a mild local pain. They
are harmless to humans and usually move out of the way when approached. If
bitten, the victim (fly) would be paralysed then snared in the web.
The female is the stronger of the breed and her bite
is more intense. If bitten by a Jewelled Spider, a human may experience
localized pain and swelling. He/she should apply a cold compress or ice to
the area. If swelling or pain does not subside, he/she should seek medical
advice in case of allergy.
spikes of the Jewelled Spiders are their most distinguishing feature. These
would help to frighten their prey and are also used in their defence to avoid
becoming prey for other animals.
Pictures: Ed Nieuwenhuys:
Bibliography - "Wildlife of Greater Brisbane" - Michelle Ryan, 199, Qld
"Spider Watch: A Guide to Australian Spiders" Bert Brunet, 1996
and pictures were taken from children's projects and where credited to that
child does not claim to be original information. Where possible, permission
to reproduce has been sought. Any infringement of copyright is purely
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