July 2022 Spider of the Month

Our July 2022 Spider of the Month (SOTM) is this scorpion-tailed orb-web spider (Arachnura scorpionoides; Araneidae), photographed by Desiré Pelser in Kloof, KwaZulu-Natal.

The name “Arachnura” is derived from the ancient Greek “arachne” (spider) and “uro” (tail), and the species epithet scorpionoides is self-explanatory. This “tail” can be moved by the spider, and sometimes it bends downwards or upwards, and sometimes it is straight. It appears that the spider curls the tail over her back when disturbed. They string their egg sacs together, similar to tent-web spiders (Cyrtophora spp.), and Lycan Paw has observed one with a string of almost 15 egg sacs.

There are 12 recorded Arachnura species in the world, but only this one species recorded from South Africa. Apart from South Africa, this species has also been recorded in Ethiopia, the DRC, Seychelles, Mayotte, Madagascar, Mauritius, and Réunion. In South Africa, they have been recorded in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KZN, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and North West.

In her post, Desiré said:

“I haven’t been taking many photos recently … shackled to my desk . This morning I had half an hour between meetings and decided to dust the macro rig off and go outside to see what I could find. Winter is here, and it’s a lean season for spiders. Look what I found hiding deep in the avo tree! African scorpion-tail spider (Arachnura scorpionoides), with her egg sacs. Only the second time in six years or so that I’ve seen this species in the garden! Happy day And my meeting went well too.”

This is Desiré’s third SOTM win this year.