March 2024 Spider of the Month

The March Spider of the Month (SOTM) is this black-spotted camaricus crab spider (Camaricus nigrotesselatus; Thomisidae), taken by Robert Wienand in Howick, KwaZulu-Natal. They are also called ladybird crab spiders.

There are 15 recorded species in the world, found in Africa, Indonesia, India, China and the Philippines. We have only this one recorded species in South Africa. This species is quite widespread in South Africa, and has been recorded in all our provinces except the Northern Cape, mostly in the eastern and northern parts of the country. Despite their bright colouration, they are not commonly spotted.

In his post on the Spider Club Facebook page, Robert said:

“This pretty lady was actually found by a work colleague while out in Howick in the beginning of January. He spotted her on one of the crates and called me to come and look. What a wonderful surprise it was to see my first Ladybird Crab Spider. She was super relaxed and besides those front legs that she couldn’t keep still she was a wonderful poser for the photo shoot.”

I don’t know the etymology of the genus name Camaricus (Tamerlan Thorell wrote the description in Italian in 1887, so I can’t read it). The specific epithet, however, means “black tiled”, from the Latin niger (black) and tesselatus, which means to cover something in stones or tiles, like a mosaic. Robert’s spider doesn’t have black “tiles” but rather brown, possibly because she is not an adult yet.

There were a few occasions where people posting photos of these spiders were accused of posting an ornament, or even of painting a spider. They are very real, though 😊