A great egret looks for breakfast at Calamvale Creek

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Scientific stuff

Net-casting spider. Also called
netcasting spider, stick spider, or ogre-faced spider.

Species:
Deinopis subrufa
previously known as Dinopis bicornis
Family: Deinopidae, formerly Dinopidae
Order: Araneida
Class: Arachnida

Identification:
Males and females look slightly different.

The males are more eye-catching because they have a lovely softwood appearance with a dark brown upside-down Y-shape on their body and head. Females have slightly thicker bodies and shorter legs, and the colour is usually more uniform, but variable.

They look like sticks with legs, and have enormous eyes.

These stick spiders are generally sluggish during the day, but at dusk and dawn they move into action creating a small net, about 30 millimetres by 20 millimetres, that they toss over unsuspecting prey.

They are found on the low, cooler parts of shrubs, or mixed in with dead twigs. Netcasting spiders are often also found on the sides of houses or on the outside of doors, where they will remain for quite a while during the day.

Size:
Full size, the net-casting spider may be as large as an adult's palm if its legs are outstretched. Body length is around 20-25 millimetres (1 inch).

Personality:
Non-aggressive towards humans. Slow and deliberate. No serious effects from its bite have been recorded.

Using our photos

Photos on this website are copyright. If you want to use any, email us at: creeklife@gmail.com

Netcasting spider's photos

The photos on this page are all of a male netcasting spider.

The photographer said:
“When I found this spider on my screen door it seemed to be sleeping.

“It didn't care when I photographed it and touched it, and when I tried to get it on to a leaf to move it to a better location for photography it lethargically obliged.

“When it realized it was on low vegetation, it raised a little more energy, and walked slowly around different parts of some small shrubbery and pot plants.

“Netcasting spiders are very nice-looking spiders. The males look something like painted matchsticks with legs.

“Although I didn't see this one build its net, you will see in one of the photos that it is starting to produce a strand of web to make a net.”

Critters of Calamvale Creek

Net-casting spider

Also known as netcasting spider, stick spider, ogre-faced spider

Deinopis subrufa

Netcasting spider creating a strand of web for its net

The world of spiders is filled with amazing critters. The net-casting spider is no exception.

Net-casting spiders spin a little web that looks like a fishing net. The photo above shows this male netcasting spider just starting to create silk for his net. The bluish-tinted net is a rectangular shape and has a lot of stretch. It can stretch to 5 times its size if necessary.

A male net-casting spider in typical hanging position

Hanging around

Typically, netcasting spiders hang at about an 80-90 degree angle with their head down and their legs outstretched. If they are ready to hunt, their legs may take roughly an X shape. The spider at right is about to start building his net, and he is getting one of his back legs ready to take strands of silk, which he will pass up to his front legs.

When the net is made, he will hold it with his front legs, and will get ready to toss it over any insect that strays into his target area. The target area is not always guesswork, for he will often makes a target spot out of white poo on the surface below.

Master of psychology

A net-casting spider hangs over his target area, which is marked by white spots of his faecal matter

Net-casting spiders don't study psychology at university, but they know the psychology of small insects.

Insects on leaves tend to look down or forward, not up. Knowing this, the netcasting spider hangs from underneath a leaf, then drops a splash of white poo on a leaf directly below (see photo at left, that shows the spider at top and the poo target about 20 centimetres (8 inches) below — marked with yellow arrow).

When an insect wanders on to the target, he throws the net over it, then quickly drops down to bite it, and then eats it.

This spider did not have a net when we took this photo in the daytime. Netcasting spiders tend to be fairly inactive in the daytime, but he will have his net ready by sunset.

The target area

The net-casting spider's poo target

The photo at right shows a close-up of the white target area that the net-casting spider has made. Target areas can be various sizes, and there was a smaller one than this on another leaf a few centimetres below this one.

“They look like sticks!”

Net-casting spider

Net-casting spiders can look like small sticks or dead twigs, and that is why they are also called stick spiders. The one in the photo above was almost invisible — even when we were very close — on the side of a potplant that had numerous dead fern stems.

Huge eyes

Here's lookin' at you

You can also see in the photos above and at left that this net-casting stick spider has huge eyes that stick out like giant periscopes.

It has other eyes as well, but these two headlights give it the reputation of having the largest eyes of any spider in Australia. It relies heavily on its excellent eyesight, because it does a lot of its hunting leading up to dawn and from sunset.

A net-casting spider walks across a fern frond.

What do they eat?

Net-casting spiders eat pretty much any small insect they can capture — small crickets and grasshoppers, large ants, bugs and beetles …

They also catch moths and other flying insects that come close enough for them to get their net into action.

House walls and doors

Netcasting spider on a screen door

Netcasting spiders are common in many areas of Australia. The reason most people don't see them is because they don't often look under low shrubs and ferns. But these spiders are common in Australian gardens.

They also wander on to the outside of houses, and this is probably the time most people are likely to see them. The one here sat on this screen door for a long time, resting for a large part of the day.

Are they dangerous?

A male net-casting spider rests during the day in typical resting pose

There doesn't seem to be any record in Australia of anyone being bitten by a netcasting spider.

This either means its bite has never worried anyone or it bites people so rarely that no records of it can be found.

Children sometimes pick them up, and there are photos of net-casting spiders in people's hands.

In our experience they don't seem interested in biting people, obviously preferring to keep their bite for something they can eat for supper.