Phonognatha graeffei Click to enlarge image
Image: -
Australian Museum

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    graeffei
    Genus
    Phonognatha
    Family
    Tetragnathidae
    Order
    Araneae
    Class
    Arachnida
    Phylum
    Arthropoda
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    1.4 cm

Introduction

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.

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.

Habitat

Urban areas, forests and woodlands.

Distribution

Eastern Australia.



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 history 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

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