Look out for Xmas treats in the bush
Christmas time in the Australian bush often presents surprises.
With the spring flowers fading, many new treats are in the offing.
When the weather warms, animals, insects and spiders seem to appear from nowhere, including the brightly coloured Christmas or Jewel spider (Austracantha minax).
It is a familiar sight in our gardens and bush as it weaves its webs between the bushes.
In fact, it is usually a friendly get-together for the spider, attaching its web to others’ to maximise opportunities for prey such as flies and mosquitoes.
It can also present a challenge for bushwalkers when confronted with a visible wall of interlocking webs — a strategy thought to deter animals from accidentally damaging it.
This festive little spider is a member of the orb weaving spiders, building a delicate sticky wheel-shaped web.
Easily identifiable with six small spine-like projections from the abdomen, it has a colour variation of vivid orange, yellow, white and black. The female can often be spotted at the centre of the web, but is neither dangerous nor aggressive.
If you happen to walk into a web, stop, and the spider will move out of your way to the safety of nearby vegetation.
Then back away and take an alternate route.
It doesn’t normally bite, but if you do get bitten there may be temporary redness or itching but usually nothing more.
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