Monday, October 19, 2015

Along Came a Green Spider

The green spider is an indigenous member of the huntsman spider family. This family got its name because of its fast active hunting habits.

It is characterised by its bright green colour which perfectly camouflages it in the green vegetation in which it lives. Females can grow up to 14mm while males do not exceed 9 mm.

In Maltese it is called known as brimba ─žadra which I assume is another name given by naturalists as like many species that are not common it does not have a popular Maltese name. The green spider is found around the Mediterranean and in Central Asia. In Europe it can sometimes be found further north including in Great Britain where it has been introduced.

Adult green spiders can be found in the Maltese countryside as early as mid-winter. They lay eggs in February which hatch within one month. The female shelters herself by tying the edges of a large leave together and spins a cocoon inside. She then seals herself in the cocoon to protect herself and her eggs. While inside the cocoon she does not feed. When the eggs hatch the spiderlings are immobile and remain so for about a week when they change their first skin. 

They then leave the nest to start hunting independently.

At this stage the adult female spider dies although sometimes she survives for some more time.

Further north, where winters are colder than in Malta the adult spider appears in late winter and the young hatch in early spring. 

The huntsman family of spiders consists of more than a thousand species most of which are found in warm temperate and tropical parts of the world. They do not build webs and hunt for other insects and other invertebrates running up and down vertical faces and down walls. Like most spiders they immobilise or kill their prey by injecting it with venom.

This article was published in the Times of Malta on 12 February 2015.

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