The Find-a-Spider Guide

The Find-a-Spider Guide    The Find-a-Spider Guide    The Find-a-Spider Guide    The Find-a-Spider Guide
FAQ ID guide ID rules Please note Glossary More info Families Other arachnids
Spider food Spider silk Nervous system Reproduction Spider blood Mobility Spider defences Spider venoms

Before you begin...

The following facts may help you identify a spider you have found:
  • Because this website was developed to identify spiders found in South-east Queensland its focus is on spider species found in this region. However, not all of the species featured are unique to Southern Queensland and may be found across Australia. Also, it is likely that spiders that are very similar to, but not exactly the same as, spiders featured in this guide at least belong to the same spider family and have similar functional characteristics. It should also be noted that the list of spiders featured in the guide is incomplete since many Australian spiders have yet to be described and assigned a scientific name and for some that are known to exist as distinct species no photographs were available for use on this website.

  • Correct identification of a spider may require some knowledge of spider anatomy. For this reason it might be beneficial for you to first examine the glossary page where you will find illustrated descriptions of spider surface anatomy as well as some other useful facts such as the differences in appearance caused by immaturity or sexual dimorphism.

  • As far as possible, the images displayed in this website are of living spiders shown as they normally appear in nature. On the other hand, a few spiders have been deliberately "posed" so that their distinguishing characteristics are easier to view. In order to see all of the distinguishing characteristics of a spider it is often necessary to disturb the spider, which many people are frightened to do. Please note that it is perfectly safe to view a spider through the sides of a glass bottle provided the lid is securely in place. Note also that many spider species are not equipped to climb glass surfaces and have a very limited ability to jump, although many tree-dwelling species may seem to have jumped as they drop to the ground when approached by a potential predator. In addition, many members of the (Salticidae and Oxyopidae) families have a noteworthy ability to spring horizonatlly or even upwards.

  • In a number of instances where no live specimen was available to photograph, spiders that have been kept in a preservative fluid have been used instead. This fact is marked on the individual images as appropriate. Preserved spiders typically exhibit some distortion of legs and other body parts and suffer significant colour changes when compared to the original living specimens.

  • Body size is an important consideration in establishing the identity of a particular spider. This generally will not be obvious in the images presented in this guide but the information supplied for each species will give approximate adult body lengths of both male and female specimens. Note that the body length data used here will include the abdomen, cephalothorax and retracted chelicerae but not the legs, fangs or spinnerets. Other authors may only provide measurements of the abdomen and carapace but this requires a closer inspection of the spider.

  • The classification of Australian spiders is far from complete. Many species names were first assigned more than 150 years ago and are currently being revised. Other species have yet to be formally described and thus do not have a scientific name at the present time. The name of the family to which a particular spider belongs has also been changed in many instances. Often a large family has been broken up into several smaller families, perhaps based on a generic or former sub-family name. Conversely, in a few cases groups of spiders have lost their family status and have instead have been added to other existing families. A good example of this is the Family Zoridae, which in 2014 was incorporated into the Family Miturgidae.

  • PLEASE NOTE: While some of the species names employed in this guide were supplied personally by arachnologists at Australian museums, notably the Queensland Museum (QM), many have instead been derived from the information in published research papers. Other identifications are based on photos and descriptions in comparatively recent monographs/websites written by authors with recognised expertise in spider taxonomy, including Ramon Mascord (RM) and Volker Framenau (VF) from the Western Australian Museum. Thus, where you find "(QM)" after the scientific name stated for a particular species this is intended to show that the name has been derived from information supplied by the Queensland Museum, although the spider itself usually will NOT have been examined by Museum staff so any errors of identification should not be attributed to them. The same will be true for all other sources of scientific names used here and for most species the actual source of the information can be accessed by clicking on the linked name or initials that follow the species name.

  • It must be understood that some of the scientific names used in this guide may no longer be accepted by most expert arachnologists or may change in the near future as individual spider families or genera are revised. Fortunately, it is usual for taxonomists to record all synonyms when renaming individual species. In the material presented in this guide scientific names that have become superseded will be stated only when they are ones that have been widely used in recently published books and articles intended for use by the general public.

Email Ron Atkinson for more information.    Last updated 24 January 2017.