AAS Australasian Arachnological Society


Order Araneae

Identification and biology

Nephila antipodiana opens in new window
Giant female and tiny male
of Nephila antipodiana from
Christmas Island

The Araneae are the true spiders. Their last two abdominal segments are modified into one to four pairs of spinnerets, which are able to secrete threads of silk. The silk is not only being used to construct prey capture webs, but may serve many other functions, such as building nests or lining burrows, constructing a sperm transfer web, and encasing the eggs.

Some spiders, such as wolf spiders (Lycosidae) and jumping spiders (Salticidae) stalk or ambush their prey. Some species, for example within the crab spiders (Thomisidae), are brightly coloured, and hide within flowers where they are camouflaged, waiting to pounce on visiting insects.

The chelicerae contain the poison glands (reduced in Uloboridae). The terminal segment of a second pair of appendices, the pedipalps, act as sperm transfer organs in male spiders. Spiders have four pairs of walking legs. The head bears a maximum of four pairs of eyes and their number and arrangement is an important feature in identifying different families of spiders.

Spiders in Australasia


There are ca. 3,300 species of spiders described in Australia, and a reasonable recent estimate published by the Australian Biological Resources Study estimates the total number of species to be ca. 10,000. The largest families are the Salticidae (ca. described 330 species), Araneidae (ca. 230 species), and Lycosidae (ca. 165 species).

Two main sources allow family level dentification of spiders in Australia:

  • Davies, V.T. 1986. Australian Spiders. Collection, preservation and identification. Queensland Museum Booklet No. 14, 60 pages.
  • R.J. Raven, Baehr, B.C and Harvey, M.S. 2002. Spiders of Australia. Interactive Identification to Subfamily. CD-ROM, CSIRO and Australian Biological Resource Study.

New Zealand

1126 of the estimated 2,000 spider species of New Zealand are described. The following reference allows identification to family level:

  • Paquin, P., Vink, C.J., Dupérré, N. 2010. Spiders of New Zealand: Annotated Family Key & Species List. Lincoln, (Manaaki Whenua Press). vii +118 pp.

Checklist of Australian spiders (pdf)

Families of Araneae:

home   > Arachnology   > Araneae

reference: AAS – Australasian Arachnological Society
online: http://www.australasian-arachnology.org/arachnology/araneae/
©2005 AAS – date: 2018/09/15

change fontsize
increase fontsize decrease fontsize
print document