Jewel Spider also called a Spiny Spider or a Christmas Spider (Astracantha minax,
previously Gasteracantha minax), is a medium-sized spider. The female is about
10 mm across its abdomen, and the male around 5 mm. It has 6 spines on its
round, hard abdomen, giving it a crab-like appearance, and is very brightly
coloured, with red legs. On its abdomen it has yellow and white spots on a black
background. These spiders rarely bite, and if they do, the poison normally only
causes a localised reaction.
Jewel spiders are very pretty spiders, and they
are quite common throughout Australia, mostly inhabiting marshes, swamps, and
bushland. If near water, they build their web over the surface, thereby catching
mosquitoes and other water-dwelling insects. They build a typical orb web, and
catch small insects (and occasionally big beetles, too!). They appear to make
the supports for their webs deliberately visible, possibly to stop large animals
and humans from walking into it, therefore ruining the web. The jewel spider has
been known to build webs in groups, therefore increasing their chances of
Male jewel spiders are only about half the size of the female, and like all
male spiders, they have to be careful not to become dinner! The female lays eggs
in an egg sack, which can be shaped from pointy at both ends to completely
round. She hangs the egg sack on a twig near the edge of the web, and they are
left there until they hatch and make webs of their own.
See our Jewel Spider images.