Daintree Region Guide

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Spiders

Updated: 29-Apr-2007

"Some of the creatures of the forest are so well-camouflaged that they are hard to see, even when you know they are there."

You will be relieved to hear that the only two species of poisonous spiders in Australia, the funnelweb and redback, do not live in the rainforest!

As a newcomer to the rainforest you will see trees, a great many of incredible diversity, but if you look closer you will see another world of intricate and secretive wildlife.

The Wolf Spider, for example, is the most commonly sighted spider in the Daintree. They are often large, open-range hunters that are conspicuous at all heights within the forest by their distinctive eye-shine reflection. Their eyesight is very strong and with eight eyes they can see in three different directions at any one time. Such an advantage serves them well in the three-dimensional habitat of the rainforest and particularly in the upper canopy where insect life is most abundant.

Perhaps the most spectacular of all the Daintree spiders is the Golden Orb-weaving Spider. The largest of the world's master weavers, its unmistakable golden web can exceed one metre in diameter and is strong enough to break the momentum of tiny birds and insectivorous bats.

Golden Orb Web Spiders are very common in the Daintree, especially after some summer rain, and can be seen on Marrdja boardwalk and around the toilets at Cape Tribulation.

The female spiders are the size of a spread hand, but fortunately are a very passive and harmless (to people) species. If you move in for a close look, you will usually see some of the males sharing her web. They are only a millimeter or two in body size, so small that she doesn't even recognise them as worth eating, a good survival strategy for the males.

The golden colour of the leg joints and the bright gold of the circular web account for the name. You should also be able to see how the female holds onto the radii of the web, avoiding the circular strands which are coated with sticky drops. The radii are dry silk without the glue, so she doesn't get stuck on her own web. Very embarrassing when that happens…

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