Spiders on the Web
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Chin’s Nature Corner

Spiders on the Web

Spiny-backed Spider with prey. Copyright © Chin Fah Shin. LIKE insects, spiders can be found anywhere in Malaysia... inside the house, in the garden or backyard, in the rice field, in the belukar, or overgrown patch, and deep in the forest. There are spiders which look obviously like spiders, spiders which look like ants, and even spiders that mimic bird droppings!

Yet, for a long, long time there was no locally-published reference book on the spider species found in Malaysia. At least none that was available to the general public. This situation has changed with the publication of An Introduction to the Spiders of South East Asia last year (2000).

This monumental work (625 pages) by Frances and John Murphy contains 32 colour plates in addition to numerous drawings by Michael Roberts. If you like to acquire a copy of this book, please get in touch with the Malaysian Nature Society at natsoc@po.jaring.my.

These are some of the many spider species that I have photographed (see below). For more spider photos, please visit my website UP CLOSE with SPIDERS.

Argiope Spider

Argiope sp. (Family Araneidae)
This spider weaves a web marked with distinctive zig-zag bands of white silk (partly seen in the lower right corner of this photo). It is known as the Signature Spider because of this. The spider holds its legs together in pairs, making it look like a creature with four legs instead of eight.

Crab Spider

Crab Spider (Family Thomisidae)
Crab spiders catch their prey by ambush. They lie in wait on flowers, often aided by camouflage, for nectar-feeding insects. Like this brush-footed butterfly Phalanta phalantha, these insects may be much larger than the spider but they are soon paralysed with a venomous bite.

Jumping Spider

Jumping Spider (Family Salticidae) – Unlike web-weaving spiders which ensnare flying insects in their nets or crab spiders which ambush their prey, jumping spiders actively hunt for food. This one had just caught a mango hopper (Idioscopus nitidulus, a species of leafhopper belonging to the family Cicadellidae).

Spider eats spider

Spider eats spider – Jumping spiders prey not only on insects but also other spider species. This one was seen with a Spiny-backed Spider (Gasteracantha arcuata) it had captured. The Spiny-backed Spider has projections which curve over its back like a pair of horns. It is also known as the Horned Spider.

Female Ant-mimicking Spider Male Ant-mimicking Spider

The Kerengga Ant-like Jumper (Myrmarachne plataleoides)
There are ant-mimics among the jumping spiders, but so far I have managed to photograph only the Kerengga Ant-like Jumper. It mimics the ferocious Weaver Ant, which is locally known as the kerengga. The female spider (above, left) is a near-perfect copy of the ant, but the male's disguise is somewhat spoilt by his large chelicerae (jaws) which protrude from the head like an oversized nose.

 This page revised on 24 May 2005. Copyright © Chin Fah Shin.
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