August 2023 Spider of the Month

The August spider of the month (SOTM) is this white spotted firmicus crab spider (Firmicus bragantinus; Thomisidae), taken by Robert Wienand in Mbombela/Nelspruit, Mpumalanga.

In his main post, Robert wrote:

“I always find winters such a challenge when it comes to looking for spiders. It requires a lot more effort and patience, especially if you are looking for something a little more out of the ordinary. This was a new one for me, as I searched in the Steiltes Reserve in Nelspruit a couple of weeks back … Lovely abdomen markings. Just disappointed I didn’t get a sharp image.”

There are 19 recorded Firmicus species in the world, three of which occur in South Africa. Only one species (F. duriusculus, from Vietnam) cannot be found in Africa. This specific species occurs in Angola, the DRC, Mozambique, Sudan, and South Africa. In South Africa, it can be found in KZN, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and one record from the Western Cape.

Not sure about the etymology of this species name, but let’s take some guesses 🙂 Firmicus was an astrologer in the 4th century CE, and one of the moon’s craters is named after him. Besides that, I can’t find any reference to Firmicus. Regarding the specific epithet, a microparasite with the same epithet, Myxobolus bragantinus, was named so because of the type locality in Brazil, Bragança, but the spider does not occur anywhere in the Americas, and only in Africa, Europe, and Vietnam, so it doesn’t make sense. The person who described it, Brito Capello, was Portuguese, so maybe there was some link to Brazil to warrant this species name. If anyone knows more about the etymology, please let me know.

This vote was extremely close, and this spider won by a single vote over Mike Green’s Stegodyphus sp. Unfortunately, only two votes came through in the 35 hours before the poll closed, and those two people voted for both photos, so it wouldn’t have made much difference if I kept the poll open for longer.

This is Robert’s sixth SOTM; by far the most of any SOTM winner. Out of 199 people who voted, his photo received 90 votes. Congratulations YET AGAIN, Robert 😉