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Just like the Serengeti

September 27, 2019

At our house we run a 2-bay (single turn) hot composting system to convert garden waste and food scraps into soil. When one bay is full the contents are transferred into the second bay (that’s the single turn bit) and then the original bay is filled again. Last weekend was the day of the transfer and in doing so we unearthed a range of fauna that had called the compost heap home for the past year or so.

One of the most distinctive was a Slater-eating Spider (Dysdera crocata), pictured left, identifiable by its red cephalothorax and cream coloured abdomen. For its size this spider has very large fangs. This allows it to feed on most underground invertebrates including slaters, beetles, crickets and even centipedes. They are night-time hunters and spend most of the day in a silk ‘room’ which they construct in an underground crevice in leaf litter or under rocks or wood.

If you get close enough you’ll notice the spider has 3 pairs of eyes set close together. But don’t get too close – a bite will cause minor inflammation but can result in headaches and nausea. The other name for this spider is the European Garden Spider, indicative of its Mediterranean origin. Due to its aversion to ants, its distribution in Australia is limited to the south east of the continent.

As an aside, when I was a kid seeing African scenes of lions and their prey – zebra, antelopes, etc, living in very close proximity, seemingly ignoring each other, I wondered how could that be? The picture above right shows something similar, Slater-eating Spiders and slaters roaming about together. Just like the Serengeti but in microcosm.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Susan permalink
    November 10, 2019 11:36 am

    Wow – I am sure all the spider-phobic people would love this spider!!! Very interesting information.


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