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Phonognatha melania

Fact Box
Phonognatha melania
(For ID see notes below)
(formerly Tetragnathidae)
Body length:
female: about 13 mm
male: about 8 mm
This spider's web isn't just a full circle. A curled dry leaf in which the spider hides with only its legs visible is suspended by supporting threads and a near-circular web hangs from its underside
Unknown; reclusive but otherwise potentially mildly hazardous to humans
Phonognatha melania
Click to enlarge
In its web
Click to enlarge
The complete web

The current identity of this spider as shown above is derived from the following paper: Kallal R.J. and Hormiga G. (2018) "Systematics, phylogeny and biogeography of the Australasian leaf-curling orb-weaving spiders (Araneae: Araneidae: Zygiellinae), with a comparative analysis of retreat evolution" in Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 184 (4), 1055-1141.

This species resembles Phonognatha graeffei, a leaf-curling spider that is common in Eastern Australia, but lacks the bright yellow and black pattern on the upper surface of the abdomen that P. graeffei has. It is believed to be present only in Western Australia, mostly in or near Perth, and was first described and named (as Singotypa pallida) by Dalmas in 1917 in Volume 86 (pages 431-436) of The Annales de la Societe Entomologique de France using specimens found in Perth. Framenau et al in their 2014 book "A Guide to the Spiders of Australia" stated that P. pallida is the only known Phonognatha species present in Western Australia but Kallal and Hormiga have subsequently decided that the correct name of this species should now be Phonognatha melania. This species would normally not be included on this website, which is intended to display only Eastern Australian spiders, but is presented here because of its overall similarities with juvenile P. graeffei specimens.

Known Range: Like Phonognatha graeffei this species can be found from Townsville to Adelaide though it is less common there. Curiously, there is another pocket of it in the south-west area of WA, where it is relatively more common than it is in Eastern Australia.

Spider(s) with a very similar appearance: Phonognatha graeffei. replica.pdf Cyril-Kongo-Watch.pdf

Email Ron Atkinson for more information.    Last updated 30 December 2021.