A Britton's Guide
to the Gold Coast

"A Briton's Guide to getting to know the Gold Coast"

Spiders Common to the Gold Coast

This page has been compiled with the very extensive contributions of Dr. Ron Atkinson. The information given and photographs have been gathered from his website called "The Find-A-Spider Guide for the Spiders of Southern Queensland".

If you want to see where the information was collected from, simply click in the spiders picture. Below is a quick guide list. Click in the name of the spider to be taken to the description and photo of each spider.

The list of spiders we have chosen was gathered together with the assistance of Dr. Atkinson and whilst the list appears to be a long one, we are informed by Dr. Atkinson that it is in no way to be taken as being an exhaustive list of what you may come across. If you would like to suggest a spider you have seen on the Coast - let us know.

We have been amazed at the education we have been on whilst working on this topic and we hope that you find the information just as inspiring. Amongst other things we are pleasantly surprised that there are actually less spiders than we imagined that are highly or seriously venomous. Although this is this case, our advice remains the same as it did for snakes...if you are unsure leave it well alone. 

White Tailed Spider (Lampona murina) (12-16mm)

Toxicity:  May cause necrotising arachnidism

Both the cephalothorax and abdomen of this spider are tapering cylinders coloured satin black. The fovea on the carapace runs lengthwise rather than across as it does on many other spider species. The distinctive off-white spot at the rear end of the abdomen gives this spider its common name. Two lateral pairs of pale spots are also seen on the upper surfaces of the abdomen, especially in immature specimens.

White tailed spiders are known to feed obligatorily on other spiders, especially the black house spider, and can be found almost anywhere in a house or other rural building. They are most likely to roam at night and can drop down from the ceiling onto beds.

Recent toxicological reports have cast strong doubts about the ability of white-tailed spiders to cause development of large areas of long-lasting skin ulceration when they bite humans.

 

Habitat: Mostly in crevices in houses and sheds or under bark or piles of timber; sometimes found inside on walls and ceilings

Redback (Latrodectus hasselti) (male 3mm female 12mm)

Toxicity: Can cause death or serious illness, especially in the young and elderly

Redback spiders rarely become permanent residents of houses though they occasionally establish webs in open sheds. They can be found in poorly maintained lawns and in pumpkins and other broad-leafed vegetables crops. They are generally not common in eucalypt forests though in some forest areas the numbers have increased substantially in recent years.

The immature spiders vary in colour and this depends at least partly

on how recently they have moulted. Males are very small and are rarely noticed.

Habitat: Redback spiders build tangled webs under ledges and in garden shrubs; the webs are untidy arrangements of tight threads with no obvious pattern and are usually close to the ground and in contact with it; most of the time the females are in a retreat of dead leaves bound with silk and there are several round egg sacs nearby

Daddy Long Legs (Pholcus phalangioides) (7.5 - 8mm)

Toxicity: Probably too small to cause illness in humans; the suggestion it has very potent venom is a myth but its long legs give it an advantage over other kinds of spiders

A noteworthy characteristic of this spider is its habit of shaking the web violently when disturbed. The female will often be found holding her eggs in her palps.

Habitat: In a thin, tangled web attached to the ceilings and upper walls of rooms, sheds and caves (hence this species is also called a cellar spider) but also under bridges and in hollows of dead trees 

Jumping Spider (Euryattus bleekeri) (6-9mm)

Toxicity: Unknown but an accidental biting which leads to local pain is possible and actually quite likely since this species is so common

A noteworthy feature of this spider seems to be the variability in its surface markings, especially when the specimen is immature.

Habitat: This spider can often be found wandering on grass leaves and bark; like most salticids, it builds no web but does construct a retreat in which to lay eggs and rear young. Juveniles are very common in eucalypt leaf litter.

Jumping Spider (Helpis minitabunda) (7-9mm)

Toxicity: This species is common around houses so bitings may occur but should only cause local pain and inflammation

This species is very common in gardens and lush bush settings in South-east Queensland. It is very mobile.

Habitat: In a retreat formed from a rolled up green leaf or wandering in greenery in search of prey

Jumping Spider (Opisthoncus parcendentatus) (6-9mm)

Toxicity: Unknown; may at least produce local pain but probably will only bite if trapped

NOTE: A salticid which appeared to be an almost mature female of this species was recently observed to moult into an adult male identical in appearance to the male of Opisthoncus mordax. 

Habitat: Sometimes seen resting on the green leaves of shrubs and low trees but more commonly found in its silken retreat among green leaves

Jumping Spider (Hypoblemum species) (5-6mm)

 Toxicity: Unknown; not particularly aggressive towards humans but may easily jump into clothing by accident and then bite, producing inflammation and local pain; too small to be dangerous but handle with caution

This is a very common salticid species in South-east Queensland and is usually seen on walls and fences during the warmer part of the day.

Note that the male tends to be darker than the female and has a mat of tan coloured hairs within the eye rectangle instead of the smooth dark area found on the female.

Habitat:  Often found on walls of buildings and on tree trunks, not normally seen in a web or retreat; very mobile and readily springs from surface to surface

Grey House Spider (Parasteatoda tepidariorum) (3-7mm)

Toxicity: Uncertain: see note below

While this species may establish in garden shrubs, it has a fondness for the undersides of outdoor furniture and other open containers. Its general shape resembles that of a redback spider but its colour scheme is very different.

Habitat: This species builds a thin, tangled web like that of a redback spider

Brown House Spider (Badumna longinqua)                                 (male 11mm female 14mm)

Toxicity: Uncertain; this species probably has the potential to cause mild illness but is rarely aggressive towards humans

This species resembles the black house spider except that it is usually brown rather than black in colour and has more obvious surface markings on its abdomen. It appears to be much more common than the black house spider in coastal South-east Queensland.

Habitat:  This species may occupy the same habitats as the black house spider but also is commonly found in retreats of leaves and tangled webbing in green shrubs

Black House Spider (Badumna insignis) (8-17mm)

Toxicity: Uncertain; may cause mild illness

This spider is often called the black house spider or window spider because it frequently builds webs in the crevices around doors and windows. Note that it does not normally establish itself inside buildings. It is said to be a favourite food of the white-tailed spider.

 

Habitat: In a web built into crevices in walls; also found under loose tree bark but the entrance always has webbing visible before the bark is lifted

Golden Orb Weaver (Eriophora transmarina) (6-23mm)

Toxicity: Uncertain; may cause mild illness but this spider is not very aggressive to humans and tries to escape if approached

The female is considerably larger than the male, which tends to wait on the edge of the web. An unusual feature of the female is the variation in colour and patterning on the upper surface of its shield-shaped abdomen.

Some individuals have a white or reddish longitudinal stripe down the centre of the abdomen.

Unless the weather is overcast, this spider only occupies the web at night. During the day it hides in a leafy retreat (or under a ledge on a building) to which the top of the web is attached. The female has the common araneid characteristic of drawing its legs up against its carapace when in its retreat. Egg masses are sometimes seen anchored near the female's retreat and have the appearance of a mass of fluffy webbing that is off-white to grey-green in colour. 

Habitat: In a typical orb-shaped web between branches of shrubs; the spider will usually be found in the web in the evening but hiding in a retreat near the top of the web during the daylight hours; the legs are normally extended at night since the spider is feeding but retracted against the body by day in the fashion typical of Eriophora species 

Scorpion Tailed Spider (Arachnura higginsi)                               (Male 2mm female 11mm)

Toxicity: This small, timid species is probably harmless to humans

This spider was given its common name because it sometimes curls the end of its abdomen upwards in much the same way as a scorpion does. It usually rests on a strongly anchored silk thread at the end of a string of masses of insect debris and sometimes egg sacs as well.

Habitat: This species sits in the centre of a small orb web in green shrubs; the smaller, tailless male may be found on the edge of this web; sometimes a single shrub has so many webs the species appears colonial, but each spider is on a separate web and no female ventures onto the web of another female

St. Andrew's Cross Spider (Argiope keyserlingi)                        (male 5mm female 14mm)

Toxicity: This spider is rather timid and non-aggressive and is assumed to be virtually harmless to humans; it is very common yet very few human bitings by it are on record

The common name of this species is derived from its habit of producing and resting on a stabilimentum, which is a cross of serrated (zigzag) silk. In one season an adult female will produce several leaf-like, green egg sacs, these being attached to a wall or tree trunk in close proximity to the web.

Males lack the bright colours of the females and are much smaller. Juveniles are also pale and reside on very small circular webs which can often be found in quite large numbers.

Habitat: This spider builds a roughly circular web between the branches of small shrubs and typically clings to the underside of this web with a pair of legs on each arm of a white cross of silk in the centre of the web; the male usually builds a small web close to that of the female

Huntsman Spider (Neosparassus species)                                     (male 10-16 female 12-18mm)

Toxicity: Bites may lead to mild illness but this species is not naturally aggressive towards humans

The markings on this spider are relatively colourful for an Australian huntsman and the appearance of the black patch on the underside of the abdomen is important for its identification, several other Neosparassus species having a somewhat similar patch. 

Habitat: On or under leaves and loose bark

(Pictures provided by Steven Pearson)

Long Lobed Spider (Cyclosa insulana) (male 5mm female 9mm)

Toxicity: This spider may be too small to cause illness in humans but should still be treated with caution

The three-pronged tail is a characteristic of several Cyclosa species but is variable in appearance between species and even within the same species. The same variability is seen in the spiders' surface markings. The male has distinct differences in appearance when compared with the female.

Cyclosa species typically build a web with a central component of heavy zigzag silk but there may also (or alternatively) be a string of insect debris stretched across the web.

Habitat: In a small circular orb web in low shrubs; the centre of the web usually has several loops of silk that is coarser than the outer regions 

Giant Grey Huntsman (Holconia immanis)                                  (male 32mm female 45mm)

Toxicity: Uncertain; may cause mild illness

This is one of the larger Australian huntsman species and is very common in eucalypt forests throughout Australia. It occasionally ventures into houses and sheds.

Habitat: Mostly under loose bark but may be found in sheds and houses

Golden Orb Weaver (Nephila edulis)(male 6mm female 23mm)

Toxicity: Not aggressive (the spider normally runs to the top of the web when alarmed) and not considered very toxic but able to cause necrotising arachnidism

This species exhibits striking sexual dimorphism, the small male often waiting on the periphery of the web. An important characteristic of the female is the present of black brushes along the legs.

The web is remarkably strong and has a characteristic yellow colour as does the fluffy egg sac which tends to be left in the tree the spider was using for support. Nephila webs normally contain a string of debris masses which are the remains of insects the spider has eaten. The tendency to produce such a string is rare among orb weaver species so this is a useful identification feature.

Habitat: In many parts of south-east Queensland this species is present in very large numbers, especially throughout the warmer months of the year. It is common for a single dead tree to have as many as 30 individual golden orb-weaver webs attached to it. In a large yellow web strung between dead tree branches or onto electricity poles; the males tend to occupy the edge of the female's we.

Brown Huntsman (cervina/jugulans)                                                (male 19-26mm female 22-30mm)

Toxicity: May be mildly toxic to humans

Being a nocturnal hunter, this species is readily caught in pit traps made by burying 10 litre cylinders into the ground in a bush setting. The legs of this spider are comparatively long for a huntsman and are not always seen to be curved forwards in typical huntsman fashion.

(Picture: Heteropoda Cervina) 

Habitat: Under loose bark , especially of eucalypts, or in man-made constructions; though the body is relatively large this spider can climb walls efficiently and therefore may enter houses at certain times of the year.                                                                     (Picture: Heteropoda jugulans)

Tent Spider (Cyrtophora moluccensis)(male 5mm female 10mm)

Toxicity: The toxicity of this species is unknown although it is a very common species. It may have the potential to cause mild illness in humans but is not naturally aggressive so bitings by it are apparently quite rare

The colourful abdominal markings of this spider make it reasonably easy to recognize although immature specimens do look rather different from adults. The mature male is very different from the female in appearance. This species is most common in eucalypt forests.

Habitat: On a large web strung between tree branches; this web is extensive and three-dimensional and may appear tent-like so this species is also called a tent spider; sometimes individual webs are virtually continuous, making this species appear colonial

Tent Spider (Cyrtophora exanthematica)(male 5mm female 11mm)

Toxicity: Unknown; a bite may cause mild illness but this spider is not aggressive to humans and is not likely to bite unless severely provoked

The abdominal markings of this spider make it reasonably easy to recognize though its colour can vary considerably. The female's habit of guarding her egg sac by lying on its surface is also distinctive.

The comparatively large volume occupied by the web allows many smaller spiders to occupy its periphery, including the male of this species and at least one scavenging Argyrodes species.

Habitat: In a complex web strung between the branches of shrubs; the upper part of the web is a loose tangled ball and the base is an inverted tent; during the day the female rests face down within the web or on the surface of its flattened egg sac once formed.

Tent Spider (Cyrtophora hirta) (male 5mm female 10mm)

Toxicity: Unknown but the venom of this spider may cause mild illness

The cone-shaped tent which this spider uses as a retreat, a nursery, and a garbage dump, is distinctive. This species is most common in eucalypt forests and if present at all is likely to be found as large numbers of individual webs quite close to each other. A curious characteristic of this species appears to be that in spring and early summer large numbers of small webs can be found but most of these are soon empty, presumably because the spiders fail to grow to adulthood.

The male is quite unlike the female in appearance. Also noteworthy is the fact that adult webs usually have several small theridiid spiders (not necessarily all of the same species) scavenging around their edges.

Habitat: On a web with a central retreat shaped like an inverted cone with a lacy lower edge and suspended by a less uniform, tangled web

Bird Dropping Spider (Celaenia excavata)                                    (male 3mm female 12mm)

Toxicity: Uncertain; may be able to cause mild illness in humans but is not an aggressive species

This species gained its common name because its colouring, general appearance, and tendency to sit motionless with its legs drawn up against its body make it very difficult to distinguish from a bird dropping. Some people also refer to it as the orchard spider because it is so commonly seen in citrus and other orchards.

There is little or no webbing to be seen in most instances because Celaenia species are all believed to attract moths by secreting odours that mimic the moths' own pheromones.

Its egg sacs are quite commonly found but not recognized for what they are. They are brown papery spheres about 12 mm in diameter, sometimes tied loosely together by webbing. Faint darker stripes may be seen on them.

The male is much smaller than the female and thus is rarely noticed. It has a shape and resting posture like that of the female but its markings and abdominal projections are somewhat different.

Habitat: On green leaves or on a thread attached to them

Orb Weaver (Backobourkia heroine) (male 7mm female 15mm)

Toxicity: May cause mild illness but this spider is not aggressive towards humans

The pattern of projections on the upper surfaces of the abdomen is characteristic of this species. Those on the closely related Garden Orbweb Spider are similar but the latter species is often darker and has a more angular body shape.

Habitat: In a typical orb-shaped web between branches of shrubs; the spider may be found in the web in the evening but hiding in a retreat near the top of the web during the daylight hours; the legs are normally extended at night since the spider is feeding but retracted against the body in the daytime in the fashion typical of Eriophora species

Leaf Curling Spider (Phonognatha graeffei)                                 (male 6mm female 12mm)

Toxicity: Unknown; small but otherwise potentially hazardous to humans

This is a very common spider throughout South-East Queensland and is easily recognised because of its habit of waiting in its leafy retreat with only the tips of its legs showing. The bright yellow pattern on the upper surface of the abdomen is distinctive.

Habitat: This spider's web is not a full circle. A curled up dry leaf is suspended by supporting threads and the fan-like web radiates out from this leaf, in which the spider hides with only its legs visible

 

Net Casting Spider (Deinopis subrufa)                                          (male 22mm female 25mm)

Toxicity: Unknown; this species is not aggressive towards humans and its venom is not considered to be significantly hazardous to larger animals

The presence of one pair of very large eyes facing forwards and the long, slender legs that at rest are aligned in pairs to form an X are features of this species. It is not too difficult to find a specimen with the characteristic net attached to its legs.

Habitat: Both sexes of this species tend to be found in association with a few strands of web in green shrubbery or on flat vertical surfaces, including exterior walls and doors of houses; during the daylight hours it tends to remain inactive but at dawn or dusk it may be found with a rectangular net on Legs I and II ready to envelop any nearby insect

Coastal Golden Orb-Weaver (Nephila plumipes)                        (male 5mm female 21mm)

Toxicity: The venom of this species is not considered to be very toxic to humans but may have the potential to cause necrotising arachnidism

This species exhibits sexual dimorphism, the small male often waiting on the periphery of the web.

An important characteristic of the female is the presence of yellow bands near the end of each leg segment. Also variable is the colour patterns of immature specimens of both female and male specimens, the latter having the colours of the female but a large (though incompletely developed) pointed embolus on its palp.

The web is remarkably strong and has a characteristic yellow colour as does the fluffy egg sac which tends to be left in the tree the spider was using for support. Nephila webs normally contain a string of debris masses which are the remains of insects the spider has eaten. The tendency to produce such a string is rare among orb weaver species so this is a useful identification feature.

Habitat: In a large web, sometimes extending to the ground and strung between tree branches, the spider occupying its web during the day

Lynx Spider (Oxyopes elegans) (male 5mm female 7mm)

Toxicity: Unknown; may be too small to cause serious illness but the bite of this spider is said to be painful

This species has relatively long, spiny legs which are partly folded back over the body for much of the time.


Oxyopids share with most salticids the ability to move about by jumping from surface to surface. Members of all other spider families are unable to jump although they may fall from a height and be carried in the breeze if small.

Habitat: On the leaves of lush garden plants; this species does not in any form of web for catching insects but is an adept hunter

Leucauge species

Toxicity: Seems to be harmless to humans

The body and leg shapes and the silver, black and yellow markings of Leucauge females make identification of the genus relatively easy.

Habitat: This spider makes a small orb web in spaces between garden shrubs, the web typically being slanted rather than vertical, and the spider rests under the centre of the web with its underside facing upwards.

Long-Jawed Spider (Tetragnatha demissa)                                    (male 11mm female 15mm)

Toxicity: Uncertain; this is not an aggressive spider despite the fearsome appearance of the palps

These spiders have very long, slender legs that are often arranged fore and aft along wires or branches when the spiders are resting. The palps are unusually large and often have bizarre shapes.

 

Habitat: This species typically builds a small roughly circular web in green shrubs, especially near water courses, but may also be found lying along dead twigs or strands of fencing wire with comparatively little webbing present

Crab Spider (Diaea species)                                                              (male 3.5 - 5mm female 4-7mm)

Toxicity: Unknown; not aggressive and may be too small to cause significant human illness anyway

This species is typical of Diaea species in that it has green legs and cephalothorax and a whitish abdomen with red markings. This allows it to hide on green leaves or in flowers and to catch insects by stealth.

Habitat: In flowers or on green leaves of shrubs; as for other Diaea species, no web is constructed

Uloborus barbipes                                                                              (male 3mm- female 4mm)

Toxicity: This species lacks venom glands and thus is harmless to humans

Habitat: In shrubs, hollows of trees and under ledges of any kind and also in a small 'orb' web suspended between twigs or large leaves. Because of their drab grey colouring, Uloborus specimens are rarely noticed even though this is a very common species

Philoponella species                                                                           (male 3.5mm - 4mm female 5mm)

Toxicity: Lacking venom glands, all uloborids are considered harmless to humans

As can be seen in the above images, this kind of spider varies its camouflage colours to suit the habitat it is occupying.

Habitat: This species builds a small orb web in branching dead twigs

Simaetha tenuidens (male 7-8mm female 8-9mm)

Toxicity: This spider may produce local inflammation and pain but is not strongly aggressive so probably will only bite if trapped

Habitat: Sometimes seen resting on the green leaves of shrubs and low trees but more commonly found in its silken retreat among green leaves

Green Jumping Spider (Mopsus mormon)                                    (male 12mm female 16mm)

Toxicity: Uncertain; the venom tends to cause painful bites in humans; ulceration at bite sites is possible but probably rare

The most important characteristics of the female of this species are its variable but generally leaf green colour, the distinctive white patch around the eyes, and the two black lines along the dorsal abdomen. The male has a prominent fringe of white hairs on each side of the eye pattern.

Habitat: Usually found on green leaves in the wetter regions of coastal NSW and Queensland.

(Picture above taken by Steven Pearson)

Swift Ground Spider (Supunna picta) (male 6mm female 7mm)

Toxicity: Uncertain; may cause mild illness in humans

Supunna picta is easy to identify because of its surface markings, including the tips of its legs, which have an orange colour.

Habitat: This spider is a vagrant that does not build a web but can be found on many outside surface, including open ground, leaf litter, tree trunks, bare rocks or fences; it runs in short bursts and is difficult to capture because of its speed.

Clubiona species (male 6mm female 7mm)

Toxicity: Uncertain; may cause mild illness in humans

Useful identifying features of this spider are the large chelicerae (forwards pointing in males) and the fact that the chelicerae and carapace are dark at the front but the latter becomes progressively lighter towards the abdomen.

 

Habitat: In a silken tube open at both ends and built in depressions on eucalypt trunks

Jewel or Spiny Spider (Austracantha minax)                                (male 4mm female 8mm)

Toxicity: Uncertain but this spider may be too small to cause human illness and is not very aggressive anyway

The ring of black spines around the abdomen and the distinctive yellow, white and black markings make this spider easy to identify. In some parts of Australia the common name for this species is the Christmas spider because it is most often noticed in December and January. However, with diligent searching it can be found from November to about May.

Habitat: This species builds a small circular web between shrubs. Although sometimes this spider's web is reduced to a few supporting strands, this species is also said to form pseudo-colony webs when numbers are hig; A. minax can be found anywhere on the web which it does not destroy at dawn as some other araneid species do.

Magnificent (Bolas) Spider (Ordgarius magnificus)                            (male 2mm female 12mm)

Toxicity: Unknown; may cause mild illness but is not considered a serious hazard to humans

The two yellow cones and red marbling on the dorsal surface of the abdomen of this spider are distinctive. Also very useful for identification purposes are the egg sacs. These are very large (about 5 cm long) and spindle-shaped, and hang in groups of about five.

Habitat: In tall trees or under open roofs; the spider sometimes is in a small retreat made of leaves and does not make an insect-trapping web.

(Picture above: right Ordgarius magnificus, left Ordgarius furcatus)

Argyrodes species (male 5.5mm female 6.5mm)

Toxicity: The fangs on this spider seem far too small to be able to cause a human envenomation.

Habitat: This species may be found in a small tangled web associated with green vegetation in eucalypt forests and may occupy the periphery of Cyrtophora webs

Comb Footed Platform Spider (Parasteatoda mundula)             (male 3mm female 7mm)

Toxicity: Even the female may be too small to cause more than mild illness in humans but it should still be handled with caution

In many respects this spider resembles a redback spider but has a less distinct dorsal stripe as well as faint mottling on the sides of the abdomen.

This species makes a retreat from a partly curled leaf or from pieces of leaf debris. This is supported by a network of threads and below it is a close-mesh, horizontal sheet web.

Habitat: In a curled leaf retreat in green vegetation or in a dry leaf suspended in a tangled web

Wolf Spider (Lycosa godeffroyi)                                                       (male 25mm female 27mm)

Toxicity: Can cause mild illness so handle with caution

Most wolf spider species have distinctive patterns of dark markings on their upper body surfaces and a pair of large eyes (plus six small ones) that give them good forwards vision. Like other wolf spiders it tends to wait just inside the entrance of the burrow and can often be seen there (especially at night when the eyes reflect the light of a torch) or can be attracted to the surface by a grass stalk inserted into the burrow entrance.

It is claimed that some lycosid species build a door to close off the burrow. This is not the case for Lycosa godeffroyi, but a thin film of web is often placed across the entrance after the spider has mated.


Wolf spiders are notable vagrants and can sometimes be found outside the burrow foraging for insects. Males often enter low-set houses in spring searching for a mate. Females produce a white or pale blue spherical egg sac and this may be carried around attached to the spinnerets. When the spiderlings hatch out they crawl onto the female's upper surfaces, almost completely covering them. It is presumed this serves as an efficient means of dispersing the young spiders.

Habitat: In an open burrow in the ground; the burrow itself typically descends 10-15 cm into the ground then runs parallel with the surface for another 15 cm. The entrance is generally circular and may be kept open by webbing and leaf litter.

Yellow Spotted Orb Weaver (Araneus rotundulus)                     (male 3.5mm female 4mm)

Toxicity: Uncertain but probably harmless

Habitat: This spider typically builds a small orb web between branches of shrubs and can be found in the web during the day

 

 

 

Venonia micarioides (male 3.5mm female 4mm)

Toxicity: This species is far too small and too timid to be harmful to humans

This kind of spider is primarily nocturnal and is not normally seen except during the early morning, when it may be noticed dashing back into its burrow. Even its web is difficult to see except when coated with dew.

Its eye pattern and general body shape are essentially the same as 'conventional' lycosids such as Lycosa godeffroyi    but it lacks the large, forward-directed eyes that most lycosids have. Another unusual feature is the unusually long fourth pair of legs and the presence of erect spines on all legs.

Habitat: This spider is rarely seen although its webs are extremely common and, when found at all, are usually present in large numbers. The web typically has the shape of a very shallow funnel, the centre of which leads down into a shallow burrow. Burrows are built in areas of lawn, leaf litter, or bare ground that is relatively soft

Mouse Spider (Missulena occatoria)                                               (male 8-12mm female 25-30mm)

Toxicity: Uncertain; the male is the more aggressive and its venom may be able to cause serious envenomation in humans, though reports of bitings are rare

The most important characteristics of the female of this species are the glossy black colour, the shortened cephalothorax with its very wide spread of eyes, and the very large chelicerae and fangs. The male is much smaller and the carapace and chelicerae are red rather than black. Mouse spiders dig deep burrows closed by a double door arrangement. The burrow is so well camouflaged that it is rarely noticed. Mostly, females are dug up by accident, but if the weather is wet males sometimes wander into houses during their breeding season, which on the Darling Downs is autumn and early winter. At the present time, both sexes should be considered potentially dangerous to humans.

Habitat: In open bush settings in a burrow with a well hidden entrance; males are often found above ground in daylight in Autumn; females remain underground unless excavated

Eastern Mouse Spider (Missulena bradleyi)

Toxicity: The venom of the male contains a nerve poison which seems to be potentially as lethal to humans as that of the funnel-web spider, but fortunately mouse spiders are less aggressive than funnel-webs

The most important characteristics of the female of this species are the glossy black colour, the shortened cephalothorax with its very widely spread eyes, and the very large chelicerae and fangs. The male is smaller and has a pale blue patch on the upper front surface of its abdomen. Mostly, females are dug up by accident, but if the weather is wet males sometimes wander into houses during their breeding season, which in the Toowoomba region is autumn and early winter.

Habitat: In a well concealed burrow in open bush settings; the burrow is normally branched with two openings each closed by a door

Toowoomba Funnel-Web (Hadronyche infensa)                         (male 23 female 40mm)

Toxicity: Highly toxic; male venom is lethal to humans; female venom is less potent but more voluminous


In the vicinity of Toowoomba this species is mostly found along the edge of the range and on nearby hills (including those in the Lockyer Valley) and mountainous areas that receive above average rainfall. Its range is probably rather wider than this and there are said to be 6 recognized funnel-web species in South-east Queensland at the present time. Mature males usually appear during or after rain but only over the period late October to early February. They are active at night but seek a dark, moist shelter during the daytime. They quickly die when exposed to drying conditions and thus cannot live long inside houses. Having emerged from their burrows mature males inevitably die within the next week or two whereas adult females usually take close to 5 years to reach maturity and in ideal conditions can live for about 20 years.

The male Toowoomba funnel-web lacks the spur on the second leg that is a characteristic of the Sydney funnel-web.

Funnel-webs rarely climb and so will usually be found at floor level in a part of the house where the humidity is high. When provoked, both sexes rear up (though they do not jump) and drops of venom appear on the ends of their fangs. This tendency to void venom is an important identifying feature of funnel-web spiders.

The neurotoxin in the venom of the Toowoomba funnel-web spider can cause serious illness in an hour or two, the male producing the more potent venom although the volume injected is usually much smaller than for the female. Envenomation can be prevented by the application of a compression bandage over the bite site. An effective antivenom is now available in districts where funnel-webs are known to exist. Surprisingly, virtually all domesticated animals are naturally immune to funnel-web spider venoms.

Habitat: In a burrow in well watered forests/gardens; males may roam above ground at night then hide in a moist retreat

Toowoomba Trapdoor Spider (Euoplos species)                         (male 23mm female 40mm)

Toxicity: The venom of this species seems to have low toxicity for humans but males may exhibit an aggressive stance as a defence against potential predators and the female during mating


The Toowoomba trapdoor is found widely across the Darling Downs and can tolerate relatively dry open grassland areas, unlike funnel-web spiders. The female rarely leaves the burrow but large numbers of mature males do so to search for mates during autumn and early winter, usually appearing during or after periods of rain.

The male is a much darker brown than the female but always brown not shiny black like all funnel-webs. It has a characteristic double spur on the inside of the tibia of the first pair of legs, but a very similar double spur can also be found on Tibia I of at least some Misgolas species.

Males rear up when provoked but do not readily yield venom as funnel-web spiders do

Habitat: In a burrow with a neatly fitting door; males wander above ground at night in autumn

Theridion pyramidale (male 3mm female 4.5mm)

Toxicity: This species may be too small to cause a serious human illness

Habitat: This species builds a small tangled web among shrubs in eucalypt forests; this web usually is not connected with the ground, unlike some web-building theridiids

 

 

 

Longlegged Trapdoor Spider (Arbanitis longipes)                      (male 16mm female 19mm)

Toxicity: The venom of this species may have a low toxicity for humans but has not been tested; males may exhibit an aggressive stance

This spider is very similar in appearance to some of the Misgolas species found around South Queensland and females cannot be distinguished from Misgolas females except perhaps by DNA studies. However, Misgolas burrows typically extend above ground level whereas those of Atbanitis longipes do not.

Habitat: In a burrow (sometimes branched near the surface) with an entrance collar of silk and leaf debris at ground level and a fragile silk 'stocking' that lines the burrow itself

Tube Trapdoor Spider (Misgolas species)                                     (male 23mm female 27mm)

Toxicity: May be somewhat toxic to humans

The correct species name for this spider is uncertain. The burrow of this spider has a tube-like entrance that resembles that of some other Misgolas species except that it lies horizontally on the surface instead of extending vertically above it. On the other hand, the burrow entrance for A. longipes is not tube-shaped but more nearly resembles that of some wolf spiders.

Habitat: This species lives in a burrow with an entrance that is a paper-like tube horizontal to the ground

False Funnel Web Spider (Namea salanitri)                                  (male 17mm female 22mm)

Toxicity: Uncertain; the venom of this spider isthought to be only mildly hazardous to humans but roaming males have large fangs and should be treated with caution

Namea salanitri is particularly common along the edge of the Toowoomba range. The dark body and lighter brown legs characterise this species.

There may actually be at least two species present because in some specimens tibial spurs (megaspines) are present on the first pair of legs of the males but they are lacking on other specimens. When present, the spurs are not as robust as on Aname males and are not on a raised part of the leg. The tube on the end of the male tarsal bulb bends back strongly on itself, though once again not in all specimens.

Habitat: This species digs burrows in established gardens and in open forest settings, and if present at all these tend to be found in quite large numbers; the entrance to the burrow is usually closed by a very thin film of web; males may wander at night during the warmer months

False Funnel Web Spider (Aname species)                                         (male 23mm female 28mm)

Toxicity: Uncertain; males sometimes enter human habitations during the breeding season and should be treated as hazardous although few, if any, bitings are on record

The male has a distinctive spur and megaspine on the tibia if the first leg as well as a metatarsus (the next segment of the leg) that is shaped like a meat cleaver. The tube on the male tarsal bulb may be relatively short and is only slightly curved. Most males are collected in spring.

Habitat: This species constructs a burrow in open forest locations; no extensive or distinctive webbing is found at the burrow entrance, which therefore is often confused with a worm hole; in some districts these burrows can be found in quite large numbers

Open Forest Curtain-Web Spider (Namirea planipes)                          (male 14mm female 15mm)

Toxicity: The toxicity of the venom of this species is unknown but it is relatively large so at least the males should be handled with caution

This species is not often found by members of the public in South-east Queensland because it prefers rainforest or moist open forest locations which tend to be within National Park boundaries. The very long spinnerets this spider possesses are distinctive but are also seen on the other common diplurids of South Queensland, especially Australothele jamiesoni.

Habitat: The females occupy a tangled irregular curtain web built under naturally occurring ledges of wood, stone or soil; the males wander during the breeding season

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