The Find-a-Spider Guide

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Spitting spider

Fact Box
Species:
Scytodes thoracica (RM)
(Note: The images included on this page may be of more than one Scytodes species)
Family:
Scytodidae
formerly Sicariidae
Body length:
female: 6 mm
male: 4 mm
Habitat:
In caves and in the corners of open, man-made structures such as sheds and bridges as well as internal window ledges
Toxicity:
Minimal hazard because the fangs and chelicerae cannot open wide
Scytodes thoracica
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Side view
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View from above
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Other views
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Its web

This spider normally stands high on stilt-like legs. The carapace is unusual in sloping upwards towards its rear end, whereas the abdomen slopes downwards. Scytodes does not construct a typical egg coccoon but holds a batch of eggs loosely tied together with silk under its chelicerae.

Scytodes is also known as the spitting spider because instead of using venom to immobilize its prey it 'spits' mucilaginous material over the prey thus preventing them from escaping. It also does not build a web for catching insects but may sometimes be found in a dense woolly natted web constructed within a convenient crevice.

Scytodes thoracica is cosmopolitan because it is easily carried abroad in crevices on man-made objects. It is not clear if any of the species known to be found in Australia are endemic to this country.

Spider(s) with a very similar appearance: Scytodes fusca.


Email Ron Atkinson for more information.    Last updated 31 December 2012.