The Find-a-Spider Guide

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Spitting spider

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Scytodes thoracica (RM)
(Note: The images on this page may be of more than one species)
formerly Sicariidae
Body length:
female: 6 mm
male: 4 mm
In caves and in the corners of open, man-made structures such as sheds and bridges as well as internal window ledges
Minimal hazard; this species spits rather than biting
Scytodes thoracica
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Other views
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Front view
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Other views
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Its web

This spider normally stands high on stilt-like legs. The carapace is unusual in sloping upwards towards its rear end, whereas the abdomen slopes downwards. Scytodes does not construct a typical egg coccoon but holds a batch of eggs loosely tied together with silk under its chelicerae.

Scytodes is also known as the spitting spider because instead of using venom to immobilize its prey it 'spits' mucilaginous material over the prey thus preventing them from escaping. It also does not build a web for catching insects but may sometimes be found in a dense woolly natted web constructed within a convenient crevice.

Scytodes thoracica is cosmopolitan because it is easily carried abroad in crevices on man-made objects. It is not clear if any of the species known to be found in Australia are endemic to this country.

Known Range: This species is most likely to be found from Cape York to South-east Queensland but the same species has also been recorded as being in Perth.

Spider(s) with a very similar appearance: Dictis striatipes.

Email Ron Atkinson for more information.    Last updated 17 January 2022.