Silver spider, ant-mimicking spider discovered at Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary
Money spiders, commonly found in European grasslands, were first reported in the country in the Muthanga Range of the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary. The species is so called because it is “supposed to bring good luck” to the person who comes into contact with it.
Researchers from Christ College, Irinjalakuda, Thrissur have discovered the spider which belongs to the dwarf spider family ( Linyphiidae) under the genus Prosoponoids. He was given the name Prosoponoides biflectogynus.
“Only six species of spiders belonging to this genus have been identified across the world so far. This is the first record of this genus in India and therefore no extensive studies have been conducted on this species of spiders in the country,” said Dr. Sudhikumar AV, head of the department of zoology at Christ College.
The research team includes Athira Jose and Vishnu Haridas, researchers from the Center for Animal Taxonomy and Ecology (CATE), Christ College.
They also discovered ant-mimicking spiders, belonging to the group of jumping spiders, of the Mananthavady range. They belong to the family of Salticidae.
Female of the ant-mimicking spider ( Toxeus alboclave) | Photo credit: special arrangement
Male and female money spiders are typically 3mm and 4mm long respectively. Both sexes are dark brown and have irregular silver spots and black spots on the elliptical abdomen. There are many fine black spines on their olive green legs. Eight dark eyes are arranged in two rows.
Females build triangular webs between dry tree twigs and feed on small insects, while males prefer to hide under dry leaves. Two or more male spiders can be found in a single female’s web.
The ant-mimicking spider has been named Toxeus alboclave. Researchers collected this species of jumping spiders among fallen leaves.
“They perfectly mimic ants by raising their front pair of legs while walking as a mechanism to escape potential predators. Only three species of this genus have been reported from India, and this is the first species reported from the Western Ghats” , Dr. Sudhikumar noted.
Male and female spiders of this species are up to 4mm and 6mm long respectively. A pair of white stripes on the dark brown abdomen of females distinguishes them from other spiders of this group. The male of the species is characterized by a brown cephalic region and a black thorax with white hairs. The forward protruding fangs have the characteristic shape of an antler. Long spines are present at the base of each leg.
The study was funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the University Grants Commission (UGC). The results have been published in British scientific journals Peckhamia and Arachnology.
The ant-mimicking spider has been named Toxeus alboclave
Two or more male spiders can be found in a single female’s web
Male and female money spiders are 3mm and 4mm long respectively