Spider Identification

Spiders have been on earth for about 300 million years and they haven't changed very much.

They didn't have to.

They were and still are very successful at what they do.

European Wasps
Vespula germanica

White-tailed Spider

White-tailed Spiders have a dark reddish to grey, cigar-shaped body (males about 12 mm, females up to 18 mm long) and dark orange-brown banded legs. The grey dorsal abdomen bears two pairs of faint white spots (less distinct in adults) with a white spot at the tip; the male has a hard, narrow plate or scute on the front of the abdomen. The two common species in Australia, Lampona cylindrata and L. murina, are similar in appearance and have overlapping distributions in the south-east. Their bites have been controversially implicated in causing severe skin ulceration in humans.

White-tailed Spider, female. L. murina
White-tailed Spider, male. L. murina.

Redback Spider
Habitat and Biology

Webs consist of a tangled, funnel-like upper retreat area from which vertical, sticky catching threads run to ground attachments. The Redback Spider favours proximity to human habitation, with webs being built in dry, sheltered sites, such as among rocks, in logs, shrubs, junk-piles, sheds, or toilets. Redback Spiders are less common in winter months. Daddy-long-legs Spiders and White-tailed Spiders are known to catch and kill Redback Spiders. Insects are the usual prey of Redback Spiders, but they are capable of capturing quite large animals, such as male trapdoor spiders, king crickets and small lizards, if they become entangled in the web. Prey-stealing is also common, with large females taking stored food items from others' webs.


Female Red back with egg sacs.
Juvenile female Red back Spider.

Female Redback Spiders are black (occasionally brownish) with an obvious orange to red longitudinal stripe on the upper abdomen, with the red stripe sometimes being broken, and an "hourglass" shaped red/orange spot on the underside of the abdomen. Juveniles have additional white markings on the abdomen. Females have a body about the size of a large pea (1cm long) and slender legs. The males are only about 3-4 mm long and its red markings are often less distinct.

The body is light brown with white markings on the upper side of the abdomen, and a pale hour-glass marking on the underside. Spiders commonly mistaken for Redbacks include their close relatives, the Cupboard Spider (Steatoda sp), the Grey House Spider (Achaearanea tepidariorum) and other members of the Family Theridiidae. Many of these spiders have a similar life history and habits to the Redback Spider.

Black House and Grey House Spiders
Habitat and Distribution

Black and Grey House Spiders are widely distributed in southern and eastern Australia. Their webs form untidy, lacy silk sheets with funnel-like entrances. Black House Spiders are found on tree trunks, logs, rock walls and buildings (in window frames, wall crevices, etc). Badumna longinquus may be found in similar locations and often builds webs on foliage.

Black house spider ( Badumna insignis ).

Black house spider (Badumna insignis).

The Black House Spider (Badumna insignis) is a dark robust spider, with the female (up to 18mm) being larger than the male (about 9mm). The carapace and legs are dark brown to black, and the abdomen is charcoal grey with a dorsal pattern of white markings (sometimes indistinct). B. longinquus (Grey House Spider) is a slightly smaller (14mm) species with a greyish carapace and grey-brown banded legs.

Huntsman Spiders

Common Huntsman Spider.

Common Huntsman spiders: Isopeda, Isopedella
Banded Huntsman Spiders: Holconia Badge or
Shield Huntsman spiders: Neosparassus Tropical or
Brown Huntsman spiders: Heteropoda
Flat Huntsman Spiders: Delena Australian

Huntsman spiders belong to the Family Sparassidae (formerly Heteropodidae) and are famed as being the hairy so-called 'tarantulas' on house walls that terrify people by scuttling out from behind curtains. In fact, they are a diverse and relatively harmless group of spiders, with 13 genera and 94 described species. Habitat and Distribution Common Huntsman Spider. Huntsman Spiders are found living under loose bark on trees, in crevices on rock walls and in logs, under rocks and slabs of bark on the ground, and on foliage.

Dozens of the social huntsman species, Delena cancerides, can be seen sitting together under bark on dead trees and stumps (notably wattles) but they can also be found on the ground under rocks and bark slabs. Badge Huntsman Spiders are often found on foliage but some woodland species are burrow builders, with and without trapdoors. Huntsman spiders of many species sometimes enter houses.

They are also notorious for entering cars, and being found hiding behind sun visors or running across the dashboard. These genera are generally widely distributed throughout Australia, although Heteropoda is absent from most of Southeastern Australia and Tasmania has only a few Huntsman species, notably Delena cancerides and Neosparassus spp.

Banded Huntsman Spider.

Huntsman spiders are large, long-legged spiders, measuring up to 15 cm across the legs. They are mostly grey to brown, sometimes with banded legs. Many huntsman spiders, especially Delena (the flattest), and including Isopeda, Isopedella and Holconia, have rather flattened bodies adapted for living in narrow spaces under loose bark or rock crevices.

This is aided by their legs which, instead of bending vertically in relation to the body, have the joints twisted so that they spread out forwards and laterally in crab-like fashion ("giant crab spiders"). Both Brown (Heteropoda) and Badge (Neosparassus) Huntsman spiders have less flattened bodies.

Badge Huntsman Spiders
Banded Huntsman Spider

Badge Huntsman Spider.

Badge Huntsman spiders (Neosparassus species, formerly Olios spp.) are usually fawn or grey on top, with distinctive colour combinations of black, white, orange or yellow under the abdomen (the 'badge') and colour bands on the underside of the front legs. Body lengths: 2 cm (female), 1.6 cm (male).

Brown Huntsman Spider

Brown Huntsman (Heteropoda species) spiders are patterned in motley brown, white and black.