Lydia the leaf-curling spider
Hi. I'm Lydia the leaf-curling spider.
I live inside a curled-up dry leaf at the top of a fan-shaped web.
Although the photo at right shows me outside my leaf, it is rare to see me this way.
Mostly, all you will see of me outside my leaf home are my legs touching the threads of my web so I can detect insects that fly or fall into it.
The leaf I now live in is my fourth in five weeks. It's a lovely home, as you can see.
My previous homes
My first home at my current address was the double-pointed leaf in the photo below. I brought it up from the ground by attaching some sticky threads of web to it and raising it up. You can see my feet sticking out at the bottom of the leaf.
It was fashionable at the time, but it looked like I was twisted around inside it, so I decided to try a more open plan. That's when I built my next home in the fresh green leaf shown in the photo at right.
The fresh leaf gave me plenty of sunhine and fresh air, but when the rain fell I got soaked because the leaf was facing up.
Many young leaf-curling spiders start out using fresh leaves. Fresh leaves are more pliable, easier to find, and easier to roll than dry leaves. But you grow out of the fresh-leaf stage after a while.
I decided to go back to a dry-leaf home. My next attempt was the leaf shown in the photo in the sidebar at far right.
Searching for a new home
I kept that one for about 10 days, but when it started to need repairs I went off in search of another nice dry leaf. It's a shame there was no photographer there to take a photo of me travelling over a piece of wood to find the leaf.
There's a lot involved in making a home out of a leaf, you know.
First I have to find a suitable leaf. This involves surveying the ground to select a leaf of a suitable size, shape, and texture. I want a distinctive leaf that doesn't look like every other leaf-curling spider's home.
Building my home
Here, I've found a leaf that looks perfect. I'll test it out. Yes, that's fine. I'll climb up the bush I've chosen for my web and hoist this leaf up.
When I've climbed up the bush I string threads between two branches — about 60 centimetres (two feet) apart — and make two-thirds of an orb web. I attach the leaf by threads to the top part of the web and use sticky silk to curl it.
Am I dangerous?
I'm not likely to bite you unless you provoke me heavily.
Leaf-curling spiders generally don't like to be seen. If I'm out of my web, I will rush back at the sign of any disturbance and hide in my leaf.
My bite may cause swelling, itching, and mild local pain to humans, but if you leave me alone I'll leave you alone.
I eat small insects that wander into my web — mosquitoes, flies, aphids, small grasshoppers or crickets, assassin bugs, atractomorphas … any critters like that.
Different personalities like different homes
Leaf-curling spiders may have many different leaf homes in their lifetime. The photo below shows just a few of the variety of leaves used around the creek.
Sometimes we don't use leaves at all. We may use a fine piece of paperbark, or even a snail's shell.
— Lydia the leaf-curling spider