Terrifying if you’re arachnophobic, but otherwise fascinating were the spider finds on Neds Corner Station during a recent biodiversity discovery Bush Blitz.
New species of wishbone, wolf and ant mimicking spiders were among the discoveries in this arid north-west corner of Victoria.
The mygalomorph wishbone spiders take their name from their Y-shaped silk-lined burrow. Like its ancient trapdoor and tarantula cousins, this spider has large, downward pointing fangs which can only pin and pierce their prey. More modern spiders have fangs that turn towards each other, allowing the spider to grab its prey.
At night, the property’s open chenopod scrublands danced with the blue eyeshine of hundreds of wolf spiders as Dr Barbara Baehr from the Queensland Museum flashed her torchlight over the ground and in trees during her evening spider stalk. One set of shiny eyes belonged to a new species of wolf spider (belonging to the Tasmanicosa genus).
Some of Australia’s largest huntsman spiders were also discovered with females measuring up to 20 centimetres across!
A new species and genus of the ant-mimicking swift spider was also discovered. Swift spiders and antspiders include species that not only look like ants, walk like ants and live with ants but also eat their hosts!
The more common, but interesting, yellow-dotted antspider was also found running between ants in the chenopod scrubland. This spider locates the ants by detecting and mimicking their pheromone, which enables it to live with the ants.
All fascinating stuff!
Bush Blitz is a biodiversity discovery partnership program between the Australian Government, BHP Billiton and Earthwatch Australia that aims to document the plants and animals across Australia’s National Reserve System.