The Christmas Spider decorates its web at Christmas

There are few people in this world who get more excited about Christmas than I do, and I am so filled with Christmas cheer that I would like to gift you all a special spider.

This particular oddity is the Christmas Spider (Austracantha minaxand it’s clearly not been called so because of its jolly looks. Thankfully its 6 spikey spines and hardy armour pose no threat to humans because at less than a centimeter big, these crawlies aren’t so creepy.

Christmas spider 3
Photo source: ednieuw

Found in Australia the Christmas spider comes out during Christmas time – hence the name, but I also like to think that’s it’s because just as I decorate my tree, they decorate their web.

As part of the orb-weaving spider genus, they spin their webs in a circular shape but then go ahead and make little silken tangles, spreading them on certain spokes of the web so that it looks like it’s been dotted with cotton balls.

Christmas spider web
Photo: Bec Callahan

Why they do this is still debated, possibly it’s to attract prey, warn large animals so they don’t run into the web, reinforce the web, or even to provide shade to the spider.

Still not convinced spiders are Christmassy? According to German legend it was spider webs on a Christmas tree that gave Santa the inspiration to magic up tinsel, making the Christmas spider especially festive. Just as I hope your Christmas is!

So merry Christmas from O.O, I hope it’s a lovely day.

References

Eberhard, W. G. (2007). Stabilimenta of Philoponella vicina (Araneae: Uloboridae) and Gasteracantha cancriformis (Araneae: Araneidae): evidence against a prey attractant function. Biotropica39(2), 216-220.

Walter, A., & Elgar, M. A. (2012). The evolution of novel animal signals: silk decorations as a model system. Biological Reviews87(3), 686-700.

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