fbpx

Peacock Spiders

The teeny weeny, adorable members of the spider family

Photo of a peacock spider Maratus speciosus – courtesy of Jurgen Otto

A lot of people are scared of spiders and, in Australia, that is rightly so. Our Funnel Webs and Red Backs are known for their poisonous and painful bites.
But there are some (relatively) new members of our Australian spider family and they are the most adorable, teeny weeny, brightly coloured, athletic little dudes you ever did see.
Like their peacock bird namesakes, they have a brightly coloured abdomen and they know how to shake that booty to attract a mate.
And when I say teeny tiny – I mean it. Here is a photo of one that my daughter found in our suburb (Canberra region):

When the sun catches them the right way, their abdomens shine like silk. This is the second spider she has found in our area. It is a Maratus Pavonis (Dunn’s peacock spider) and has been sighted in our area a few times now:  http://canberra.naturemapr.org/Community/Species/21432

The first one she spotted was a different kind and she found it a week earlier on the oval at her primary school. It was this discovery that sparked her interest in these little beauties and got her sharp eyes scanning the undergrowth in search of more. That spider was a beautiful silky blue spider with yellow legs, and after an online search we realised it was one of these:
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-14/unamed-peacock-spider/5670618

If you would like to see these wonderful little fellows in action, there are a number of videos of their YMCA dance moves on youtube. Here are some links to get you started:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4xV5Kir3uU

https://www.youtube.com/user/Peacockspiderman/featured

If you would like to learn more, the following links provide a short history of the discovery of these jumpy spiders in Australia:
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-14/discovering-maratus-harrisi/5670424

http://www.smh.com.au/environment/how-amateurs-discovered-namadgis-tiny-dancer-20120402-1w95e.html