October 2022 Spider of the Month

The October spider of the month (SOTM) is this chrysso comb-footed spider (Chrysso sp.; Theridiidae), taken by Daniel Rautenbach in Harare, Zimbabwe.

The first species (Chrysso albomaculata) that Pickard-Cambridge described in 1882 had a yellow-orange-gold abdomen, hence he named the genus “Chrysso”, meaning “gold”. Other species in this genus, however, come in a wide range of colours.There are currently 64 recorded species in the world, mostly from South America and Asia, but none have so far been described for South(ern) Africa, even though many have been collected. Most species here will be new species that still have to be described.

The second part of the common name “comb-footed spider” refers to the family (Theridiidae), which all have a comb of serrated setae on the tarsus of the fourth leg. It’s a very diverse family (124 genera and more than 3000 species), found in a range of habitats, with many different types of webs, and some genera/species not spinning webs at all and being free-living hunters, often of ants. A few genera are also kleptoparasites and steal prey from larger spiders’ webs, while others are araneophagous and hunt other spiders, often in their webs.

Unfortunately not much is known about the Chrysso spp. in South(ern) Africa.