|At a Glance|
|Size||8 - 10 mm|
|Lifespan||This species of spider does not live very long – approximately 3months|
|Conservation Status||Least Concern|
Kite spiders are diurnal orb-web spiders. Species occur mainly in the tropics and sub-tropics, with four species in South Africa. The spider is small, 8-10 mm, brightly coloured in shades of cream, yellow, red and black. The adbomen is sclerotised (porcelain-like) with four lateral and two posterior spines, the second pair longest and the first shortest.
The common species occurring in Krantzkloof are versicolor which have yellow and red abdomen. Occasionally you may come across the species sanguinolenta which have a white and red abdomen
Kite spiders commonly build their webs across paths at a height of approximately 1,8m.
They eat mainly insects which are trapped in their webs. As spiders cannot eat solids, the internal organs of their prey have to be liquidised. The spider pumps enzymes from its mouth through the fang puncture holes to create a soup which it can drink.
Reproduction usually takes place the spring following the winter when they hatched. Females die after producing an egg mass, and males die six days after a complete cycle of sperm induction to the female.
Distributed from central and east Africa to Kwazulu Natal.
The kite spider tends to inhabit areas such as woodland edges and shrubby gardens. These spiders are most common in the winter months.
Many species of Southern African spiders are threatened due to two major factors viz. habitat destruction and the pet trade – yes some people like spiders as pets! Habitat destruction is relevant within the context of our area as it represents a threat to burrowing spiders and scorpions because many of these creatures that live in burrows in the ground are adapted to narrow ranges of substrate. This means that habitat destruction through development devastates populations.
Kite spiders are very common on many of the paths in the reserve and in particular along the Molweni River.
There are many other species of spider found in the reserve and the most commonly seen after the Kite Spiders are the Bark Spiders and the Golden Orb Spiders.
Spiders (order Araneae) are air-breathing arthropods that have eight legs, and chelicerae (mouth) with fangs that inject venom. They are the largest order of arachnids and rank seventh in total species diversity among all other groups of organisms. Spiders are found worldwide on every continent except for Antarctica, and have become established in nearly every habitat with the exception of air and sea colonization. As of 2008, approximately 40,000 spider species, and 109 families have been recorded by taxonomists.