Yesterday I sent off a brief email detailing the behaviours of this unusual red and black spider. It was found about a month ago at the front of our home here in Warradarge. I first noticed it as it was scrambling in the sand (quite frantically) as soon as the sun started to dip toward the horizon. It was new to me at the time. Initially I thought it was an orb spider as I’d been referencing an Australian spider field guide and it was the only image that seemed to match my red and deep black spider. Being the curious person that I am, I decided to contact the author to see if he knew what it might be.
The author (Robert Whyte) confirmed with me this morning that “It is an as yet unknown, at least as far as live photos are concerned, species of Tharpyna, you are the discoverer! It looks like it is a mature male, so it may have been frantically out and about for a quick shag before bedtime. Many crab spiders are daytime spiders, but Tharpyna are often under bark and may be night hunters. It is one of the prettiest Tharpyna I have seen. ”
So my first question to Robert was a little egotistical: Could I name it? He wrote me back saying that technically I could but it would need to be scientifically named and also peer reviewed. I let him know that I’m no scientist – and he was able to share with me the details of another expert based in Poland who might be able to help.
I also asked how he was able to distinguish that it was a crab spider and not the orb I’d originally guessed at. He informed me that there were several identifying features that clued him into the species. You see, I am a literal amateur.
“The eye tubercles, eye arrangement, general flatness and shape, shape of male palpal (sex) organs, arrangement of legs (laterigrade).”
I’m quite thrilled to share this news with you all. It is a really great to know that there are new species out there for discovery, and that there are resources out there to help novices like myself.
I’ll update you if this little beauty gets a name.
If you have a love for spiders, or want to look at some examples of them from across Australia this book is worth every penny. I also want to thank Robert for being so kind and taking the time to help me with identification and steering this newbie in the right direction.