Animal Species:Leaf-curling Spider

The Leaf-curling Spiders (genus Phonognatha) are day-active orb weaving spiders that protect themselves from predators by sitting inside a silk seamed, curled leaf.

Leaf-curling spider, Phonognatha sp

Bruce Hulbert © Bruce Hulbert

Standard Common Name

Leaf-curling Spider

Identification

Mainly identified by their curled-leaf retreats in which they hide with only their legs exposed, Leaf-curling Spiders are fat, oval-shaped spiders with red-brown legs and body and a cream coloured pattern on their backs.

Size range

1.4 cm

Distribution

Eastern Australia.

Habitat

Urban areas, forests and woodlands.

Other behaviours and adaptations

Leaf-curling Spiders hoist a leaf from the ground and, using silk threads, curl it to form a protective cylinder, silked shut at the top and open at the hub.. They then sit in this cylinder with only their legs showing, feeling for the vibrations of a captured insect. The curled leaf protects them from birds and parasitic wasps. Sometimes other objects, such as snail shells (which come ready-curled), are used. In P. graeffei this leaf is suspended just above the centre of the web, but may be placed higher in other species. Juvenile spiders start off by bending over a small green leaf, but eventually graduate to larger dead leaves.

Life cycle

A male Leaf-curling Spider will take up residence in an immature female's web, living at the upper end of the curled leaf. He will then mate with her as soon as she matures. The female lays her eggs within another curled leaf, which is silked up and hung in the foliage away from the web.

Predators, Parasites and Diseases

The curled leaf retreat protects Leaf-curling Spiders from predators such as birds and parasitic wasps.

Classification

Species:
graeffei
Genus:
Phonognatha
Family:
Tetragnathidae
Order:
Araneae
Class:
Arachnida
Phylum:
Arthropoda
Kingdom:
Animalia

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Tags spiders, araneae, arachnida, invertebrates, identification, classification,

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