A great egret looks for breakfast at Calamvale Creek

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Scientific stuff

Spiders

Spiders are eight-legged arachnids belonging to the order Araneida, or Araneae.

A spider's body consists of two basic sections connected by a thin tube. The front section is called the cephalothorax or prosoma, and the back section is the abdomen or opisthosoma.

All spider types lay eggs and cover them with spider silk. Spiders that lose a leg do not seem to be too inconvenienced. There is no bleeding, and after one or two moults, a new leg starts growing from the stump, although it never reaches the length of the original.

Only a small number of Australia's 1500 species of spiders are dangerous to humans.

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Spiders at Calamvale Creek

Spiders are everywhere around the creek, especially in warm weather.

If you take a walk around the creek in summer you may walk into several webs along the way. That's because the creek is rich in small insects that spiders love to eat, and they obviously like a good meal.

Most spiders won't hurt you if you walk into their web. They just consider it an inconvenience and will drop to the ground or scoot off to a branch to get away from you. They come back later to rebuild the web.

Critters of Calamvale Creek

Questions about spiders

Why do some spiders hang a leaf in their web?

Leaf looks like a parachute hanging at end of web (5K)Q: “I have noticed that spiders sometimes have a leaf hanging in their web. Can you tell me why they do this? Aren't they just advertising to insects that the web is there and the spider is ready to eat them?”
From Alyssa, Sunnybank Hills

A: Hi Alyssa. Thank you for your interesting question. There are several reasons that spiders may put a leaf in their web.

1. Some spiders around our creek use leaves as an important part of their webs. The classic example is the amazing bowl spider (Cyrtophora exanthematica), which uses leaves at the end of a thin branch to fashion into a spectacular bowl-shaped web. You can see photos on our bowl spider page.

2. Leaf-curling spiders use a dead or fresh leaf as their home. Although you don't often see the spider inside the curled leaf, it keeps its legs on the web threads to feel the vibrations of any insect that flies into it. See photos on our leaf-curling spider page.

Seed pod hanging in golden orb web spider's web (9K)3. Spiders are remarkable engineers. Not only can they make intricate webs, but they know how to keep the strands taut while they are building. From our observation, some seem to use a dead leaf or other object as a plumb — a heavier object that keeps the weight of the web balanced. This may be only short term while they are constructing, or it may stay longer.

They don't use only leaves for this purpose. The photo at left shows a small seed pod hanging from a golden orb web spider's web. When we took this photo, several golden orb web spiders were constructing adjoining webs above.

They will use any item they can pull up to the web, but leaves are the most common.

— Critters of Calamvale Creek editor