In lots of hotter components of the Outdated World, the spiny orb-weavers of the subfamily Gasteracanthinae are among the many most eye-catching of all spiders. In addition to establishing complicated, simply seen webs within the method of different orb-weavers, these spiders draw consideration by their vibrant colors and ornate construction, typically with outstanding preparations of spines on the stomach. Right here in Australia, their dramatic look has result in their typically being known as “Christmas spiders”. The precise cause for this drama is unsure. The spines are typically presumed to be for defence however the coloration has been topic to a number of proposals from an aposematic warning to functioning as a lure for flying bugs.
The taxonomic historical past of the Christmas spiders is a sophisticated one, going again to the early years of arachnology. Not surprisingly for such distinctive animals, numerous species have been described by early authors. Nevertheless, species of spiny orb-weavers are sometimes very variable, resulting in a big quantity being described as new on multiple event. As with different orb-weavers, males are a lot smaller than females, and the spines on the stomach are usually extra poorly developed. Coloration inside a species can differ significantly in brightness, tone, and patterning. Structural options such because the association of spines and the event of sigilla (impressions on the dorsal floor of the stomach that mark the position of inside muscle tissue) can nonetheless present dependable indicators of species id, as (after all) can options of the genitalia. You must be taught to look previous the superficial daubings and give attention to the underlying kind.