April 2024 Spider of the Month

The APRIL Spider of the Month (SOTM) is this triangle orb-web spider (Ideocaira cf. transversa; Araneidae), photographed by Kyle Thomas in Magoebaskloof in Limpopo.

Kyle wrote the following about this find:

“While my little getaway to the misty mountains of Magoebaskloof was primarily meant to be a chill and relaxing fishing trip with my father, I still spent nearly every evening scouring the incredible natural forest we had access to. The area was absolutely teeming with orb weaver diversity; these along with many other species were on nearly every tree I looked at. While I definitely found these Ideocaira unique, I can’t say with any certainty say they were my most valued find, However, over the course of the past month and seeing everyone’s reactions to this photo has really made me stop and appreciate even the most mundane and overlooked specimens.”

These orb-web spiders build their webs at night, remove it in the morning, and then go into hiding. Like most other araneids that do this, they are quite cryptic and depend on camouflage when hiding during the day. With their triangular abdomens and legs pulled in when resting, they resemble a leaf. Little else is known about their behaviour.

There are only two recorded species in the world, and both of them occur only in South Africa. There are, however, some species that seem to belong to this genus that remain undescribed. Ideocaira triquetra has so far only been recorded in the Eastern Cape, while Ideocaira transversa is more widespread, and has been recorded in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, and Limpopo. The latter species is known only from the female, and the male is still undescribed.

I don’t know what Ideocaira means. Eugène SImon’s description of this genus in 1903 was in French, and with limited knowledge of French, I could only figure out that Caira looks like a proper noun, possibly referring to a place. I thought it might refer to a different genus, but all I can find is Kaira, which is also an araneid. Ideo- can mean an idea or thought, but in this context I think it refers to a class or model.

This is Kyle’s second SOTM. I have lost my previous SOTM document when my hard drive crashed, so unfortunately I can’t say how many nominations he has received since he has joined, but it’s quite a lot. From 250 people who voted, this photo received 151 (60%) votes. I think this is the most votes any of our SOTMs has received. Congratulations, Kyle, and thanks to everyone who voted!