Largest button spider in the world discovered in KZN

0
1033

A forest-dwelling widow species of button spider has been discovered in KwaZulu-Natal. It has been named the Phinda button spider. According to the Wild Tomorrow Fund (WTF) Entomology, the spider is possibly one of the largest button spiders in the world and the largest in Africa.

The spiders have been found so far only in sand forests, a critically endangered habitat found mainly in SA and southern Mozambique. 

“Almost everything about this species is unique and special. It is extremely large for a button spider, it constructs a bright purple egg sac, lives in a very specific critically endangered habitat type, and has a gentle temperament for a spider genus that is feared worldwide,” -Barbara from Wild Tomorrow

The first specimen was found in Tembe Elephant Park. The spider was monitored for two years until it died, leaving egg sacs. 

What makes the spider unique, according to the researchers, is that it lays three, bright purple egg sacs. No other button spider in the world has egg sacs that colour. The spider’s eggs are purple only when first produced, then turn into a grey-like colour. 

The first specimen was found in Tembe Elephant Park. The spider was monitored for two years until it died, leaving egg sacs. 

What makes the spider unique, according to the researchers, is that it lays three, bright purple egg sacs. No other button spider in the world has egg sacs that colour. The spider’s eggs are purple only when first produced, then turn into a grey-like colour. 

According to WTF Entomology, before the Phinda button spider was discovered there were 31 recognised spider species across the world, with eight of them recorded in Africa. 

Widow spider facts 

  • Widow spiders are known for their toxic, sometimes fatal bite. 
  • The Latin genus name for all widow spiders is Latrodectus, meaning silent biter
  • There are 31 recognised species of widow spiders globally, with eight recorded on the African continent 
  • In South Africa widow spiders are referred to as button spiders possibly derived from the Afrikaans name Knopiespinnekop

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here