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Leafcurling Spiders
by Stacey C.

Introduction: The full size of a Leaf Curling Spider is the size of a 50 cent piece. The size of one leg is like a pin. They have a brown body and a creamy yellow abdomen and pale markings. The scientific name for the Leaf Curling Spider is Phonognatha graeffei. Normally the female's size is about 8mm and the male about 5mm. This species has eight eyes on its cephalothorax, (spiders don't have heads). The Leaf Curling Spider is an Orb Weaving Spider which means it makes a symmetrical web. 

Habitat: Most Leaf Curling Spiders are most common in Summer and they are found in southern areas of Australia. This species constructs a typical orb web and locates at or near the centre of a dead leaf which is curled to conceal the spider. The web-lined leaf conceals the spider during the day but at night the spider leaves its shelter to consume prey which has become entangled in the web. The spider may construct its web in almost any foliage and sometimes several webs may be found in the one small area.

Venom: The Leaf Curling Spider's bite gives mild local pain. This species of spider does not appear to be harmful. It can kill larger insects than itself. To humans, the bite causes itching and swelling.

Prey: This spider constructs a web during the night and many small creatures such as aphids, ants, mosquiotes, small grasshoppers and lady beetles which get caught in this net of silk, are immobilised by the spider and its body fluids are eaten. The web is  cut away so that it is not present the next morning.

Breeding: During mating, the male spider visits the boundary of the orb web  of the female spider. The egg sacs are made of loose silk thread in the centre of which, the eggs are located. Spiderlings survive weeks without food. When conditions improve, they spin a long thread of silk on which they are carried away and contruct a typical web.

Conclusion: The Leaf Curling Spider is one of nature's expert builders. This spider could be called one of the engineers of the animal world.

Pictures used with permission: Ken Walker
 Victorian Spiders page: http://www.mov.vic.gov.au/spiders/index.html
and Ed Nieuwenhuys:
http://www.xs4all.nl/~ednieuw/australian/araneidae/araneidae.html

Information and pictures were taken from children's projects and where credited to that child does not claim to be original information. Where possible, permission to reproduce has been sought. Any infringement of copyright is purely unintentional.

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