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You may have seen a spiders emerge from a curled-up brown leaf in your garden. You might be sharing your yard with Phonognatha graeffei, a leaf-curling spider (pronounced fonog-natha greefe-i), a fascinating member the Araneidae orb-weaving spider spider family (pronounced aranee-idee).
This spider is found in every state and territory of Australia. It builds an orb web from plants and places a leaf curled up as a hiding place. The leaf-curling spider is similar to other orb-weaving Spiders. It lives only for one year, and is most often seen in the late summer. They can be found in both urban and natural forests, and they make for interesting family arrangements.
How Do Spiders Curl The Leaves?
These spiders use silk to raise a leaf from the ground and place it in their web. They then gently curl the leaf using their legs and secure it with silk by making a cone or funnel shape. This curled leaf is then woven into the web with more silk. They might also use pieces of paper or snail shells if they are unable to find the right leaf.
Young spiders are less strong than adults and start by curling small, green leaves to make their nests. As they age, they move on to larger, dry leaves. Curled leaves, or bits of paper, protect the spider against hungry predators like birds. They protect the spider from parasitic spiders that lay their eggs on other insects or spiders and eventually kill their hosts.
The spider can rest in their cave, keeping their front legs extended and in direct contact with the web. The spider can detect vibrations from an insect in their web and will nip to grab it. Leaf-curling spiders are similar to other orb-weaving spiders. They will eat any insect that gets caught in their webs, including flies and moths. Even larger prey can be handle by them.
The spiders spend the majority of their time in retreat and only venture out during the day to find food or repair and rebuild their webs.
Venomous? Yes. Dangerous? No
Nearly all spiders that you see are venomous. However, being venomous doesn’t mean that you are dangerous to people. Leaf-curling spiders, like all spiders, aren’t consider dangerous to humans. The leaf-curling spider’s fangs are small and point together. They look a lot like pincers. Rarely do they bite. The spider may bite if you try to entice it. However, this can cause pain and swelling around the area.
If you see one, you can “leave” it alone. Remember, having leaf-curling Spiders in your backyard is something to be proud about! These tiny, fascinating creatures are great at keeping pest insects under control and are a friend to gardeners. Is there a nest of baby spiders or eggs in the curled leaves,
These Spiders Are A Fascinating Family
Unusually for spiders males and females leaf-curling spiders form a pair and share a leaf retreat. When she is young, the male will move in with her and when she becomes mature, he will marry her. One study found that the male moves in with the female when she is young and will mate with her once she becomes mature.
Cohabiting males can be cannibalize by females. This happens regardless of whether or not the female was starve. After mating, she makes another curled leaf retreat away from her web. This is her nursery retreat where she will lay her eggs.
It’s A Fascinating, Beautiful Place
Although spider are not a top choice for most people, I understand that. It can be a wonderful and sometimes beautiful experience to observe their lives and get to know their stories. For the functioning of our natural world and for us, spider and invertebrates like flies, beetles and snails are very important. They are also very cool once you get to know them.
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