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Tent Spiders by Prue

Introduction: There are many different species of Tent Spiders in Australia. The largest Tent Spider is 19mm long and is found in the northern parts of Australia. The female has a grey head and a black body with white spots. The tiny male Tent Spider has an orange body. The Latin name for the Tent Spider is Cyrtophora spp.

The Dome Tent spider, (Cyrtophora moluccensis) is the largest spanning the width of a man's hand. The long body is strongly variable in colour with a broad black to rusty red stripe for most of the back and bright yellow and white spots along the edges.

The Russian Tent spider (Cyrtophora hirta) is a rarely seen small pale spider with an oval body usually hiding in the white cap at the top of the tent-like web.

Scoop web spiders (Cyrtophora exanthematica) have a brown long triangular body that is difficult to find among the cluster of dead leaves.

Habitat: The Tent Spider is found all over the north and east regions of Australia and around some islands close to Ausralia's coastline. The Tent Spider makes an orb web that looks like a tent. The spider makes its web horizontally across the ground (which can reach anywhere up to 4 metres in length) with the centre pulled vertical so the web is shaped like a tent.

The Tent-web spiders, although technically orb-web spiders, do not build orb webs. Their tent-like, highly complex non-sticky web is sometimes considered a precursor of the simplified orb-web. The webs are always positioned in trees or in gardens with suitable foliage. Inside the tent is another tent, if an insect flies in the tent, the spider covers up the torn web to hide the insect from any other prey. They are found in shaded warm areas - gardens, litter, trees, walls and paths. This spider is most often seen in Summer, north from Coffs Harbour, NSW. 

Prey: The Tent Spider eats whatever flies into its web; flies, grasshoppers, butterflies and other insects. The Tent Spider does not eat birds.

Breeding: The Tent Spider has a green egg sac placed in the web. The spider makes four woolly green egg sacs which are attached to the top of the web. The female dies and she leaves her young alone to fend for themselves.

Venom: The venom has no effect on humans, only to insects.

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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