The Find-a-Spider Guide

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Find-a-spider: Frequently-Asked Questions

What is the primary purpose of this website?
This website was developed to assist people to identify spiders found in South-east Queensland without the need to take the specimens to a museum or other source of spider expertise. Please note that the author of this website does NOT claim to be an expert spider taxonomist and the information given for each spider included is not presented in the correct taxonomic fashion. Instead it is written at a level of complexity such that it should be meaningful for members of the general public. On the other hand, the site has been made as comprehensive as possible in regard to the number and variety of spider species included.

Are all Australian spider species listed here?
The primary object of this website is to provide information on spiders found in South-east Queensland but not all of the species featured are unique to Southern Queensland. Many of them actually occur widely across Australia and even in some nearby countries. It is also worth mentioning that spiders found in locations remote from Australia but that look very similar to, though perhaps not exactly the same as, some Australian species presented in this guide probably will belong to the same spider family and have functional characteristics similar to those of their Australian counterparts.

How do I go about identifying a spider?
Check out out the Spider Identification Guide for more information on how to use this guide, then click on the Find-a-spider tab and choose from the options offered. Please note that these days spider identifications are based on the spider's visible surface anatomy, the shapes of its male and female genital structures, the location and habitat in which it was found and the appearance of its web, egg sacs or retreat. For many species DNA profiles are also being used. Hence, an accurate identification of many spiders can only be made by an expert taxonomist. In addition, a large number of Australian species have yet to be formally described and for them no complete scientific name is available at the present time. A further complication is the fact that many spider families or genera have recently been, or are currently being, radically revised so many changes in scientific names and family relationships are being published each year.

How can I examine a spider without getting bitten?
If you are lucky or if the weather is cool your spider may be happy to remain motionless in a visible position while you look at it. However, if it has good vision, as is true for those spiders that have at least one pair of large eyes, it may try to hide or escape as you approach. You may then need to attempt to capture it in a suitable container. It is often possible to catch a spider that is resting on a wall by placing a clear glass jar with a wide rim over the spider and then sliding a piece of stiff paper under the rim. If the spider is in a suspended web you will often be able to position your container on one side of the web and bring in the lid from the other side. Once the spider is in the jar and the lid is secured, you can give it a close-up inspection with no risk to yourself. Most spiders are not naturally aggressive towards humans anyway and prefer to drop to the ground and hide or play dead whenever a potential predator gets too close. It is important for you to understand that there are no significantly dangerous spiders in Australia that can actually jump, although many virtually harmless salticids and oxyopids can jump short distances and some other kinds of spiders can spring sideways as they fall to the ground and many are able to climb smooth surfaces.

Why can't I find my spider anywhere on this website?
Since the focus of this guide is on the spiders of South-east Queensland, your spider may not be included on this website because is is not found in or near South-east Queensland. The creator of this site has not yet managed to obtain photographs of all Australian spider species, some of which have not yet even been formally described or assigned a scientific name.

Why is it that in a number of cases different species have been given the same common name?
This may be true when several species have very similar appearance and behavioural characteristics and the common name given to them is based on those characteristics. For example, all species that are called trapdoor spiders live in a burrow with a door at the entrance. On the other hand some other spiders, including mouse and wolf spiders, also tend to close off their burrows with a door, but these are not normally called trapdoor spiders.

I think I have just found a spider that is not already on this website. What should I do now?
The author would be pleased to look at any photographs you can take of it and attempt to provide a scientific name for it. If in fact that species is not yet on the website the photos of it may be added to the site as soon as possible but ONLY with the permission of the person who took them. Whenever this happens the photographer's name is always shown on the photo and copyright for it remains with them so the photo may not be used by any other person, including the creator of this site, for any other purpose without their further permission.


Email Ron Atkinson for more information.    Last updated 21 April 2015.