Sierra Leone Spider
Location: WAPFR, Sierra Leone
October 10, 2011 9:20 am
Hi – I found this spider on my backdoor in the Western Area Peninsular Forest Reserve in Sierra Leone this week. At first it looked dead but when I nudged it, one of the front pairs of legs moved around a bit. It seems to group it’s legs into pairs… I’ve never seen one like this so am fascinated to get any more information. Thanks!
We do not recognize your spider, and it has been our experience that other than moths and butterflies, African insects and arachnids can be very difficult to identify because there is not much credible internet information available, and we also suspect that many species have still not been correctly described. We suspect this is one of the Orbweavers, but we are not certain. This posture is often seen in members of the genus Argiope which your spider somewhat resembles, though Argiope species are usually more brightly colored. We are posting your letter and photo and tagging it as unidentified, and we hope to eventually be able to provide you with an answer.
Karl is knocking identifications out of the ball park!!!
Fri, Nov 4, 2011 at 2:47 PM
Unknown Spider from Sierra Leone – October 10, 2011
Hi Daniel and Keira:
It looks like a Net-casting Spider (Deinopidae) in the genus Deinopis, often referred to as Ogre-faced Spiders. The genus occurs globally, primarily in the southern hemisphere and particularly in Australia and Africa. The leg posture is typical and their hunting tactic is unique. They spin a web but rather than creating a stationary web that passively captures prey, they hold the web in their front four legs and drop with it onto passing insects as they hang in suspended ambush. The prey becomes entangled in the net and a quick bite then immobilizes it before it has a chance to struggle free. There are at least three genera of Deinopids in Africa (four globally) but the size and appearance suggest it is a species of Deinopis. Most online images are of Australian species, especially D. subrufa, and I was unable to determine a particular species name for this one. Regards. Karl