March 2023 Spider of the Month

The spider of the month is this broad-headed jumping spider (Rhene sp.; Salticidae), photographed by Robert Wienand in Howick, KZN, and found on an avocado farm.

There are 60 known Rhene species in the world, with 13 species found in South Africa. Most species occur in Africa and Asia. We don’t know what specific species this is. These flat and broad jumping spiders are mostly found in grasslands, where they spin their retreats in the seed heads of grasses and other field plants.

The name “Rhene” originates from the name of the mythological Greek wife of Hermes, the messenger of the gods. It means “sheep” or “lamb”, from the Greek word rhên. There are a few accounts of spiders named after mythological Greek characters, without much explanation why. The genus was originally named Rhanis (Koch 1846), but there was already a beetle genus with that name, so it was renamed Rhene (Thorell 1869).

This is Robert’s fourth SOTM from 36 nominations. From 696 people who voted, he received 249 votes. Congratulations yet again!