Exciting Peacock Spider discoveries at NGT Reserves!
NGT is very pleased to announce that we have found five different species of peacock spiders (so far) on our reserves!
Peacock spiders (Maratus spp.) belong to the jumping spider family (Salticidae) and until recently were quite poorly known. I have become fascinated with these tiny spiders and whenever I am working on NGT reserves I keep an eye out for them. I recommend watching the below clip narrated by David Attenborough and this previous blog from two years ago when I first began hunting for peacock spiders.
I have found two species at this Reserve, White-haired (Maratus albus) and Tasmanian (M. tasmanicus) Peacock Spiders. These two coastal species are usually seen among Bower Spinach (Tetragonia implexicoma) on the beach dunes. Try looking for them on a fairly calm day, and when it’s not too hot or too cool. You will see ants and flies, but remember to think and look small – the jumping action gives them away. I have seen them from Portland in Victoria, all along our South East coast up to Robe in SA.
I’ve also found two species at Eaglehawk, Bat Peacock Spider (M. vespertilio) and Variable Peacock Spider (M. chrysomelas). These two dry inland species are found around Naracoorte and further north. I have seen them in stringybark forests, in open patches of sand and grasses, or on scattered leaf litter. They occur in other types of habitat too. M. chrysomelas is particularly tiny – 3 mm long!
So far I’ve found one species at Long Point near Dunkeld; the Common Peacock Spider (M. pavonis). This species occurs in a large variety of habitats, and is one of the most widespread peacock spiders found in Australia, seen right across the country from the west to the east coast. At Long Point, Jonathan and I saw this little guy on top of a rock amongst pasture grasses. I have also seen them on the margins of wetlands and they are also found in urban areas. Have a look in your backyard; Rose recently found one in her vegetable garden in Mount Gambier!
Mount Burr Swamp
I recently observed a cousin to the peacock spiders, Frost’s Jumping Spider (Jotus frosti, also known as a Brushed Spider) at Mount Burr Swamp. I saw a male dancing, trying to impress one or two females. This particular species of brushed spider has long fringing on its first set of legs, and the males wave these in the air to attract a mate, as opposed to the peacock spiders which wave their third set of legs in courtship display.
I would love to see your photos of any peacock spiders, or any jumping spider for that matter, so send them in to me! I am sure there will be more of these gorgeous, colourful, tiny little spiders found in the future, so watch this space…