December 2023 Spider of the Month

The Spider of the Month (SOTM) is this Yates’ box kite spider (Isoxya yatesi) in the orb-web spider family (Araneidae), taken by Andrea Sander in Drummond, KwaZulu-Natal.

Andrea said the following about this find:

“I found it on a small patch of yellow flowers from weeds. Kept running up and down the stalk of the flower so only managed to get a few shots when paused for a few seconds. Very tiny spider. Probably about 4 to 5 mm.”

These tiny orb-web spiders belong to the subfamily Gasteracanthinae, or spiny orb-web spiders, which mostly (if not always) have six spines. Many members of this subfamily have the word “acantha” in their name, which is ancient Greek for “thorns”. In fact, Isoxya was initially named Isacantha by Simon (1864). I don’t know the etymology of “Isoxya”. Maybe Oxya refers to a locality. If anyone has any clarity on the matter, please let me know. The species was named by Michel Emerit (1973) after J.H. Yates, who was the author of Spiders of Southern Africa in 1968.

There are 16 recorded Isoxya species in the world, and they occur only in Africa and Madagascar, with one species (I. cicatricosa) also recorded in Yemen. Six species are known from South Africa.

Out of 193 people who voted, Andrea’s photo received 114 votes. This is Andrea’s 37th SOTM nomination, but according to my list, it’s only her second win (which I find hard to believe). Her last win was in December 2020, with an ogre-faced spider (Asianopis sp.). She has also been a little quiet this year, and her last nomination was in January 2023. Congratulations, Andrea, and we’re very happy to see you back in action!