The Find-a-Spider Guide

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Bird-dropping spider

Fact Box
Species:
Celaenia excavata (JS)
Previous species name:
Celaenia kinbergi
Family:
Araneidae
formerly Argiopidae
Body length:
female: 12 mm
male: 3 mm
Habitat:
On green leaves or on a thread attached to them
Toxicity:
Uncertain; may be able to cause mild illness in humans but is not an aggressive species
Celaenia excavata
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Extended legs
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Underside
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With egg sacs
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Male, side view
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Male carapace
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Eye arangement
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Underneath male
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Male palp shape

This species gained its common name because its colouring, general appearance, and tendency to sit motionless with its legs drawn up against its body make it very difficult to distinguish from a bird dropping. Some people also refer to it as the orchard spider because it is so commonly seen in citrus and other orchards.

There is little or no webbing to be seen in most instances because Celaenia species are all believed to attract moths by secreting odours that mimic the moths' own pheromones.

Its egg sacs are quite commonly found but not recognized for what they are. They are brown papery spheres about 12 mm in diameter, sometimes tied loosely together by webbing. Faint darker stripes may be seen on them.

The male is much smaller than the female and thus is rarely noticed. It has a shape and resting posture like that of the female but its markings and abdominal projections are somewhat different.

Spider(s) with a very similar appearance: Arkys curtulus, and Celaenia calotoides.


Email Ron Atkinson for more information.    Last updated 28 June 2011.