Cyrtophora citricola (Tent-web spider)
(animals) > Bilateria > Ecdysozoa > Panarthropoda > Tritocerebra >
Arthropoda > Arachnomorpha > Cheliceriformes > Chelicerata > Euchelicerata
> Arachnida > Araneae
> Araneomorpha > Family: Araneidae
The only species of the genus Cyrtophora
in South Africa is the cosmopolitan tropical tent-web spider, Cyrtophora
citricola. The web is a-typical, in that it is similar to mesh curtaining,
which forms the orb section of the web, and the spider spends both day and night
on it. The orb-web is supported by numerous knock-down threads that form a tent,
and these deflect prey onto the orb-web. The radials are indistinguishable from
the spiral and the web has no viscid properties. Cyrtophora citricola can occur
in large numbers with webs connected, often in
aloes, each spider adhering to its space. The spider, 15-20mm body length,
is cream coloured with distinct rounded projections on the abdomen. The spider
normally hangs below the central section and the remains of prey and egg sacs
make it difficult to see. If disturbed, this spider drops to the ground and the
colour changes to black.
Once adult, males usually stop eating and
using webs. They will seek out receptive females, mate and then die shortly
after. The female produces one to three cocoons of eggs after which she may die
or live long enough to guard her offspring.
The effectiveness of the mechanism of the
claws for holding onto silk strands was demonstrated when a paper wasp
immobilised a spider and spent more than an hour trying to free it.
Text by Norman Larsen ©.