Friday, 1 June 2012

Scorpion-tailed Spider, Arachnura higginsi

Image: wigzac via Flickr
Scorpion-tailed Spider?! Does this thing have venom on BOTH ends? Yikes!

Arachnura higginsi is a small orb-weaver from Australia. She may be just 16 mm (0.63 in) long, but you won't forget her in a hurry; she looks extraordinary!

At the end of that crazy tail are all these little spikes and knobs. It's quite intimidating, looking like a tiny mace.

Image: teejaybee via Flickr
So... does it sting? Does it bite and sting? Does it bite, build webs and sting?

Image: David Cook Wildlife Photography (kookr) via Flickr
No! It may well be more to do with camouflage. Scorpion-tailed Spiders even come in colours ranging between light cream to brown, so it must look much like a dead leaf in a web.

When disturbed she can in fact raise her tail over her head. I guess it's to scare stuff away by looking like it will sting. To me, the prospect of a zombie leaf is far more terrifying. I've been trying to eat my greens for years, the idea of all those carrots and lettuce leaves rising from the dead and baying for my blood is a shocking prospect.

Image: Robert Whyte via Flickr
A young, sub-adult Scorpion-tailed Spider
All this is only the female, of course. Males are just 2 mm (0.08 in) long and have no tail at all.

The female's web has a V-shaped section missing from the top. When the time comes, she will fill it with a row of egg sacs made of brown, woolly silk. She may even cover them in debris for camouflage. That's one dirty and completely unused web!

Image: Robert Whyte via Flickr
Another youngster. Banana butt!
The youngsters can be quite brightly coloured and it takes a while for the tail to fully develop its dangerous appearance.

One thing is for sure, though: I shall never eat another vegetable again! Or banana.


TexWisGirl said...

now, who couldn't love this guy?! :)

Comment1 said...

Agreed! I can't quite keep my eyes off her!

Blake Schoeman said...

Are they common to south Africa and are they poisonous

Bk Jeong said...

We now need a scorpion-tailed spider-tailed viper.

Joseph Jameson-Gould said...

@Blake Schoeman: I don't think they're found in Australia and they don't seem to be any more venomous than any other harmless spider.

@Bk Jeong: Yup. The world can always do with a few more chimaera!

Unknown said...

We have a house in Great Brak and see a lot of them. Not sure if they are poisonous. Apparently there are things Google can't answer

DeeJay said...

I just found a Scorpion Tailed Spider in our back yard down here in Denmark WA. I have never see one befor and found the information on this blog. When disturbed it clings to its egg sack so closely you can hardly see it. I love seeing things like this along with the variety of different little critters in the bush.

Joseph Jameson-Gould said...

That's cool! I'd love to see what it looks like when you can hardly see it, that tail is eye-catching it's difficult to imagine!

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