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Pan-web Spider - Cyrtophora exanthematica


This page contains pictures and information about Pan-web Spiders that we found in the Brisbane area, Queensland, Australia.
leg to leg 15mm
The Pan-web Spiders are pale brown to dark grey in colour. We easily found this spider in Brisbane Botanic Gardens. The spider builds web similar to Tent Spiders but with different shape. Instead of tent-shaped web, This spider's webs are in pan shape. So we call them Pan-web Spiders.
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The spiders build pan-shaped webs in permanent site. Their webs are about 0.5m in diameter built among plants horizontally. There are many supporting silk on the top of the web to discourage prey or intruders enter from the top. In day and night the spiders hang at the middle of the web, waiting for prey. 
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Because the web is horizontally built and is permanent (not re-build everyday like some other spiders, there are many plant materials fall and collected on to the web. The spiders spend quite a lot of time on cleaning their web. Usually they do the cleaning at night. They remove the small dirt, cut and drop the larger items. Then repair every part of the web to almost perfect. They seldom  rebuild their webs from new. 
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As most other web weaving spiders, the Pan-web Spiders are very shy. They will run to their retreat even a very minor disturb. Not like the Tent Spider with retreat at the web centre, the Pan-web Spiders retreat is some where near the edge of the web. Once they are hiding, because of their camouflaged colour, they are hard to be found. They may stay in their retreat for hours. 
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The spider leaves some fallen dry plant materials on the web which enhance the camouflage.  
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Mid summer is their reproduction season. The female make the egg sac in their retreat. The egg sac is a olive-shaped silken ball. After the spiders make the egg sac, they will 24hrs guarding the egg sac. In this period, they do not come back to the web and do not feed until their offspring hatch. It takes about two to three weeks. After the spiderlings hatched, the mother spiders return to their web. The spiderlings will remain in the retreat for a few weeks.  

1. Cyrtophora exanthematica - The Find-a-spider Guide for Australian Spiders, University of Southern Queensland, 2007.
2. Spiders of Australia: An Introduction to Their Classification, Biology & Distribution - Hawkeswood T, Pensoft Pub, 2003, p119. 

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Last updated: December 11, 2007.