Before you begin...
The following facts may help you identify a spider you have found:
- Because this guide was developed to identify spiders found in
South-east Queensland the focus of the guide is on spider
species found in this region. However, not all of the species featured
are unique to Southern Queensland and may be found across Australia. Also,
it is likely that spiders that are very similar to, but not exactly the
same as, spiders featured in this guide at least belong to the same spider
family and have similar functional characteristics. It should also be
noted that the list of spiders featured in the guide is incomplete since
many Australian spiders have yet to be described and assigned a scientific
name and for some that are known to exist as distinct species no photographs were available for use on this website.
- Correct identification of a spider may require some knowledge of
spider anatomy. For this reason it might be beneficial for you to first examine
the glossary page where you will find
illustrated descriptions of spider surface anatomy as well as some other useful facts such as the
differences in appearance caused by immaturity or
- As far as possible, the images displayed in this guide are of living
spiders shown as they normally appear in nature. On the other hand, many
spiders have been deliberately "posed" so that their distinguishing
characteristics are easier to view. In order to see all of the
distinguishing characteristics of a spider it is often necessary to
disturb the spider, which many people are frightened to do. Please note
that it is perfectly safe to view a spider through the sides of a glass bottle provided
the lid is securely in place. Note also that many spider species are not equipped to
climb glass surfaces and have a very limited ability to jump, although many tree-dwelling species may seem to have jumped as they drop to the ground when approached by a potential predator.
In addition, many members of the (Salticidae and
Oxyopidae) families have a noteworthy ability to spring horizonatlly or even upwards.
- In a number of instances where no live specimen was available to
photograph, preserved spiders have been used instead. This fact is marked
on the individual images as appropriate. Preserved spiders typically
exhibit some distortion of legs and other body parts and suffer
significant colour changes.
- Body size is an important consideration in establishing the identity
of a particular spider. This generally will not be obvious in the images
presented in this guide but the information supplied for each species will
give approximate adult body lengths of both male and female specimens. Note
that the body length data used here will include the
retracted chelicerae but not the
legs, fangs or spinnerets. Other
authors may only provide measurements of the abdomen and
carapace but this requires a
closer inspection of the spider.
- The classification of Australian spiders is far from complete. Many
species names were first assigned more than 150 years ago and are
currently being revised. Other species have yet to be formally described
and thus do not have a scientific name at the present time. The name of the family
to which a particular spider belongs has also been changed in many
instances. Often a large family has been broken up into several smaller
families, perhaps based on a generic or former sub-family name.
- PLEASE NOTE: While some of the species names employed in this guide were supplied
personally by arachnologists at Australian museums, notably the
Queensland Museum (QM), many others have been derived from the information in papers published
by them. Other identifications are based on photos and descriptions in comparatively recent monographs/websites written by authors with recognised
expertise in spider taxonomy, in particular Ramon Mascord (RM), Burt
Brunet (BB), Jennifer Shield (JS) and Volker Framenau (VF) from the Western Australian Museum. Thus, where you find "(QM)" after the scientific name stated
for a particular species this is intended to show that the name has been derived from information supplied by the Queensland Museum, although the spider itself
usually will NOT have been examined by Museum staff so any errors of identification should not be attributed to them. The same will be true for all other sources of scientific names used here and for most species the actual source of the information can be accessed by clicking on the linked name or initials that follow the species name.
- It must be understood that some of the scientific names used in this guide may no
longer be accepted by most expert arachnologists or may change in the near
future as individual spider families or genera are revised. Fortunately,
it is usual for taxonomists to record all synonyms when renaming
individual species. In the material presented in this guide scientific
names that have become superseded will be stated only when they are ones
that have been widely used in recently published books and articles intended
for use by the general public.
Email Ron Atkinson for more information.
Last updated 17 April 2009.