Lucky Legs
  • Last updated:
  • 21 Oct 2019

If the sight of eight long hairy legs sends you into a spin you are not alone – around 30 per cent of the population admit to fearing spiders on some level. Yet among the arachnids, you’ll find some of nature’s most exquisite masterpieces.

The beautiful Humped golden orb-weaving spider, Nephila plumipes, is a common garden spider in southeast Queensland. The distinctive golden strands of Nephila webs can vary in depth of colour and it has been found that these spiders can vary the intensity of the silk pigment relative to background colour and light levels. While they primarily eat invertebrates, some of the large Nephila species have been known to catch and eat larger prey such as snakes and small birds.

If you have a pond in your backyard or maybe a nearby lake or creek you could take a torch out at night and be lucky enough to find one of the water spiders.

The Elegant water spider, Dolomedes facetus can be found on the banks of still or slow moving water bodies where it will hunt invertebrates on the water surface or in the water column. The Elegant water spider is able to stay submerged for long periods by trapping air between the hairs on its legs and body.

The magnificent Giant water spider, Megadolomedes australianus, is also semi- aquatic and can be found around the calmer edges of creeks and rivers. It can frequently be seen sitting motionless with a couple of legs either resting on the surface of the water or dipping slightly beneath the surface.

From the very large, now to the very small – you might remember learning as a child that a money spider crawling on you would bring good luck. Fortunately for these members of the Linyphiidae family, even the most arachnophobic among us can find little to fear from the tiny money spiders, so they have continued to occupy an affectionate place in our folklore.

Article and images by Julie O'Connor