June 2023 Spider Of The Month

The JUNE Spider of the Month (SOTM) is this ogre-faced net-casting spider (Asianopis sp.; Deinopidae), photographed by Dawie Broekman in Malelane, Mpumalanga.

In his main post, Dawie said:

“A very special spider marked off on my dream list… Not once, but twice, in one night! … These magnificent nocturnal spiders don’t just have the biggest eyes of all spiders, they also have an incredible hunting technique. They spin a little net with specialized silk, which they hold between their legs, while hanging suspended and upside-down, waiting for prey to pass underneath them. The highly light-sensitive eyes give it night vision to see the movement of prey passing by at night… They also often spin little ‘trip wires’ to help them know when prey moves into position… And in the blink of an eye, they stretch open their little net, and cast it over their unsuspecting prey underneath! No escape!

While I knew I was likely to find many wishlist and ‘new for me’ species on my trip down here to the Lowveld / Kruger National Park, one can only ever dream of finding something as special as this. What a privilege, that I’m grateful to be able to share with you all.”

Until recently, there were only two genera in the Deinopidae family. At the end of 2022, all the Deinopis species in the Eastern Hemisphere (Australia, Africa, etc.) were moved to Asianopis (Chamberland et al., 2022). Most Asian species were moved to this genus in 2020 (Lin & Li, 2020).

The genus Deinopis and family Deinopidae both mean “fearful appearance”, from the Greek deinos (fearful) and opis (appearance). It can also mean “fierce-eyed”, depending on whether you consider opis to be feminine or masculine. There are three genera in the Deinopidae family, and two of them can be found in South Africa (Asianopis and Menneus). There are 33 recorded Asianopis species in the world, with four recorded species in South Africa.

This is the fourth time this spider has won SOTM. Our very first SOTM back in 2019 was one, but this was a time before members voted and when the admins chose the SOTM. A juvenile Asianopis sp. was also the Spider of the Year for 2022.

This is Dawie’s second SOTM from 18 nominations. From 168 people who voted, his photo received 101 votes (60% of the votes). Congratulations, Dawie, and thanks to everyone who voted. This is so far the highest voter turnout without using the @everyone tag.