19 May 2010

Delena cancerides indeed!

I'm Winter-ing in The Otway Forest area and keeping the fire roaring is a crucial daily activity. Last night I learned to never gather logs from the woodstack at dusk, even if spiders don't upset you as they do so many others.
When I grabbed a log it absolutely seethed with freaked out Huntsmans.
The things you see when you don't have the darn camera!
So just now I searched online for a photo of 'Huntsman spider nest' and found this sad story:

'Dr Linda Rayor, of Cornell University, a Visiting Fellow at Canberra's ANU, says her study of Huntsman spiders (Delena cancerides) has shown it is the only one of the 1039 known huntsman species, that lives a social life with family members, and, of the 40,000 known spider species only 1% are social like that, and this species one of only two that does not spin a web.
Rayor believes the communal lifestyle has been thrust upon the spider by a lack of suitable accommodation in the wild.
With an adult female weighing up to 4.5 grams and with a leg spread that can exceed 14 centimetres, Rayor says the spider is limited in finding large enough spaces to live.
"They are trying to fit themselves into retreats under the bark of wattle trees and it turns out there are remarkably few of these habitats around," she says.
"The colony is producing all these offspring that want to start their own colony but they have no where to go."
The nest can be home to more than 100 spiders with up to 30 sub-adults, but the family ties only bind as long as the mother of the spider nest is alive.
Rayor says the mother defends the nest against predators and seals it off from attack, brings prey home to feed the family and generally keeps the peace.
On her death however, she says, familial loyalty is forgotten.
Because of the lack of habitats there is intense competition between sexually mature sisters to inherit the family site from the mother.
"I've seen sisters in fights to the death," Dr.Rayor says.'

( Gosh I hope I didn't start a Huntsgirl death fight when I dropped the log.)

Then, my Inbox had, in that amazing coincidental way the world unfolds, my usual newsletter from
REMO's Store in Sydney featuring
I hope all my new friends stay outside in the logpile tonight.