Christmas or Jewel Spider
- Colour: Females have bright yellow and white patterns with a ring of black spines. Melanic females have the same shape but may be completely black. Males have smaller spines and have a yellow, brown, white and black pattern. Six spines protrude from the sides and bottom end of the abdomen.
- Size: Females are larger measuring 7 mm, males are usually 4 mm.
- Diet: opportunistic, insects
- Movement: Females sit in the middle of the web. Males can often be found in the vegetation around the perimeter of the web.
- Often in aggregations in which many webs are supporting each other.
- Breeding: Eggs sacs are red-brown, and can be a variety of shapes. They are usually attached to a twig near the web.
- Unlike many orb-weaving spiders, in the web during the day.
What to Observe
- How Many females
- Number of males on the web
- Egg sacs in web
ClimateWatch Science Advisor
Spiders may start appearing earlier in the year as a result of climate change, and they may also start breeding earlier and may appear in areas that were previously too cold.
When To Look
November into February, can sometimes be seen from November into May.
Where To Look
- Check around the web of the females to find males waiting for a chance of copulation
- Look around dry eucalypt forest
- It's web is usually not far from the ground, often being attached to shrubs or fences
The map below displays the accumulated observations of these species as reported by ClimateWatch observers, together with the layer showing how the range of the species might change between now and 2085, with orange areas indicating where the species might disappear, and green areas where the species range might expand.
Waldock, J. M. and Scharff, N. Notes on the generic name of the Christmas or Jewel Spider, Austracantha minax (Thorell). Australasian Arachnology 59: 4-5.
Gasteracantha sacerdotalis(= Thelacanta brevispina) is a very similar species with white pattern on darker surface of the abdomen.
Did You Know?
Also known as Six Spined Spider or Spiny Spider.
A. minax can be found anywhere on the web which it does not destroy at dawn as some other araneid species do.