The spider that looks like a plant

by Matthew Cobb

This fantastic picture popped into my Tw*tter feed. It was taken by Kurt, a nature/macro photographer based in Kuala Lumpur. It is reproduced with permission and can be found on the spider page of his great website – that page also includes ant-mimic spiders mating (a terrible tangle of legs)!

What exactly it’s mimicking isn’t clear —it looks like a bit of honeysuckle flower to me. I initially assumed this was an ambush predator, but other photos by Kurt show that it spins a web (you can see the web underneath it), although it’s not clear whether that’s part of the deception or is used directly to trap prey. Here’s another image:

[JAC: I suspect that its mimicry is that it looks like a bit of flower or vegetation caught in a web, and the mimicry could also act when it was “between webs.”]

Orion2

Kurt says: “I still don’t know if it’s a Poltys or Arachnura or Cyphalonotus or  something else.” Can any readers help?

You can find more images of this and related spiders on Kurt’s Flickr page.

h/t @ziyatong

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a nature/macro photographer based in Kuala Lumpur.
a nature/macro photographer based in Kuala Lumpur.

12 Comments

  1. gbjames
    Posted April 17, 2014 at 4:36 am | Permalink

    Remarkable.

  2. Chris McConnell
    Posted April 17, 2014 at 4:40 am | Permalink

    Nature is cool

  3. Posted April 17, 2014 at 5:08 am | Permalink

    Amazing, huh? I’m not good at identifying spiders, and I hadn’t known about this spider before, but all three of the possible genera are orbweavers, so they most likely use webs to catch prey. With 40,000+ known spider species, and more new ones discovered most months, spiders always present surprises. Kurt’s website is a treat–especially for me his photo of the Liphistius.

  4. Posted April 17, 2014 at 5:09 am | Permalink

    There are pictures on Flickr that look just like it, and identify it as Cyphalonotus. spider .
    My search led me to plenty of weird spiders, triggered by this one. This is my perfect morning.

  5. Achrachno
    Posted April 17, 2014 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    The greatly attenuate abdomen is remarkable — are there other spiders that even approach that? And where are the spinnerets located? Out at the very tip?

  6. Posted April 17, 2014 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    That thing’s a spider?

    Um…okay…if you say so.

    Sure it’s not a mimic octopus midway in transition between a nightjar and Cthulhu?

    b&

  7. Diana MacPherson
    Posted April 17, 2014 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Great, even spiders are in disguise so they can scare me by stealth!

  8. Posted April 18, 2014 at 1:54 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Matthew. This has just been confirmed to be a Poltys sp. based on its eye arrangement.

  9. Posted April 18, 2014 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Iron Vicar (formerly urban peregrines).

  10. Posted April 20, 2014 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    What an odd creature this is. It does look like some sort of honey suckle plant. Very interesting. Nonetheless, I thought I would leave a comment to inform you that I HATE spiders, and I’m extremely terrified of them.

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted April 21, 2014 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

      In that case, I highly recommend Spiders: Learning to Love Them by Lynne Kelly (an ex-arachnophobe), followed by Spider Silk by Leslie Brunetta (who posted at #3 above) and Catherine L. Craig. Both books are non-threatening, and very, very interesting.

      • Posted April 22, 2014 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

        Thanks, Mark! They are much less frightening in print. And so much more fascinating than most of us know.


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