Tent Spiders at Skyrail

Visitors to Skyrail Rainforest Cableway in Tropical North Queensland are fascinated by the ever growing spider webs that are popping up around our Terminals and Stations.

These get plenty of attention and are the subject of many photos on a daily basis as there could be hundreds of spiders in any given web location.

Read on for some interesting facts about the Dome Tent Spider found in the Australian Tropical Rainforest.

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 edge.

Tent Spiders constructing their massive webs near Skyrails Smithfield Terminal

The Dome Tent spider builds a large dome-shaped web from 30-60cm across with a long tangle of web above the dome and a small tangle below. The female hunts from the top of the dome where she lays her eggs in a long bean-like manner and attempts to fend off the large flesh flies (Sarcophagidae) that parasitise them. In Queensland, from around Rockhampton northward, these spiders are known to form massive colonies as big as houses.

The male is much smaller than the female. ♀ 24mm ♂ 8m

Although it technically belongs to the orb-web spiders (family Araneidae),Cyrtophora moluccensis does not build an orb web. Its tent-like, highly complex non-sticky web is sometimes considered a precursor of the simplified orb-web. It has a distinct dome with a central peak where the spiders hide and threads above and and below the dome.

Information sourced with approval from the Queensland Museum Network, further information can be found at arachne.org.au.

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