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Overview

Huntsman Spiders

The Wolf Spider

The Voracious Water Spider

Orb Web Builders

A Fascinating Sight

Riddle of the St. Andrew's Cross

The Tailed Spider

The Amazing Stick Spider

The Death's Head Spider

Queen of Spinners

The Hairy Imperial Spider

The Beautiful Spiny-Bellied Spider

The Crab Spider

The Jumping Spider

The Flying Spider

Bird-Catching Spiders

A Spider that Barks?

Trap-Door Spiders

The Brown Trap-Door Spider

The Funnel-Web Spider

The Venomous Red-Back Spider

Deadliest of Creatures

       

 

The Death's Head Spider

For many years, the death's head spider, alias the bird-dung spider,alias
the orchard spider (Celaenia excavata), preserved the secret of its strange habits. Possibly, because it was so common, no one considered its study would prove of interest. Even now, the full story has not been revealed. Two of its popular names are based upon its appearance, the third on a common habitat. The female spider, black and white and of shrunken appearance, rests motionless at the end of an exposed and prominent branch, usually one bare and leafless. Her legs are drawn up closely beneath her body. Often she rests in close proximity to a bundle of egg-sacs, each of light brown silk with a pattern of dark-brown lines meshed over its surface. These sacs may number up to a dozen—striking evidence, not only of the prodigal hand of Nature, but also of the degree of infant mortality. All day, and sometimes at night, in sun, wind and rain, the spider rests so motionless that one might suspect that her shrunken body was lifeless. A touch of the finger will bring reassurance.

At last, there comes a night when, with dusk, the spider rouses herself from her lethargy and becomes surprisingly active. These nights are often moonlit. She takes up her position in some open space, clear of foliage, and, raising her forelegs, waits. The period of waiting may be prolonged, but sooner or later a moth, impelled by some mysterious urge, appears, and after circling irresolutely for a while, flies straight into the waiting spider's grasp. The lure appears to be in the nature of some subtle perfume, imperceptible to human nostrils, but enticing the moth unerringly to its doom from a considerable distance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
Wonder Book of Knowledge