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  1. 123 Female photo by Volker Framenau
  2. 123_0 Male photo by Volker Framenau
  3. 123_1 Photo by William Archer
  4. 123_2 Melanic (black) form photo by William Archer
  5. Christmas_jewel_spider_-_credit_to_russ_webber Male spider on Web photo by Russ Webber

Christmas or Jewel Spider

Austracantha minax

Appearance

  • 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.

Behaviour

  • 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

Christmas Spider Occurrence Map ALA

References

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.

  1. Search Species

  1. What Else?

    Gasteracantha sacerdotalis(= Thelacanta brevispina) is a very similar species with white pattern on darker surface of the abdomen. 

  1. 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.