Spiny Spider (Austracantha minax): is known by a number of common names including Six-spined, Jewel and Christmas Spider. The last common name refers to the spiderís appearance during December and January. The specimen illustrated was photographed in our garden in mid-January 2011.
Austracantha minax is a small but very colourful spider. Males are 4 millimetres long whilst the females are about one centimetre in length. Our specimen is a female.
They have a ring of six spines around the abdomen which has yellow, white and black markings. The spines and distinctive colouration make identification easy. The spines and colours give this spider its other common names. The spines may deter predators such as birds.
The Spiny Spider is a member of the Araneidae family. This family includes spiders that spin orb webs and are known as orb-weavers and includes the well known St Andrews Cross Spider.
During Christmas and New Year Austracantha minax is frequently encountered at Yallaroo. They spin their webs across paths in the garden. We try to leave the webs intact so garden detours are frequent at this time of the year.
The Spiny Spider is not venomous. The species was previously known as Gasteracantha minax.