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Social spiders in possum nest boxes

Angela Sanders (Ecologist)
Published 25 Nov 2019 by Angela Sanders (Ecologist)

Pygmy Possums quickly took up residence in the nest boxes we erected in restored habitat at our Monjebup North reserve in southwest WA. What we didn't expect were the large colonies of social spiders that also moved in! 

It all started about the same time we were finding Pygmy Possums in the boxes, but on lifting the lids of some we found many huntsman spiders of all sizes whizzing around inside.

We now know that they're a species of huntsman that live together, normally under the bark of trees. In the restored area tree bark is in short supply at present and they've found the wooden boxes suitable.

A single adult female lays eggs and the successive generations of siblings help each other out and share prey items. This has several advantages for the spiders including faster growth. They're also heavier and healthier.

For a facinating insight into their behaviour, watch the video below.

 

Social huntsman spiders in pygmy possum box Social huntsman spiders in pygmy possum box
Social huntsman spider Social huntsman spider

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