Palystes castaneus

(Latreille, 1819)

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Ecdysozoa > Panarthropoda > Tritocerebra > Arthropoda > Arachnomorpha > Cheliceriformes > Chelicerata > Euchelicerata > Arachnida > Araneae > Araneomorpha > Family: Sparassidae (huntsman spiders) > Genus: Palystes

Palystes castaneus Palystes castaneus underside
Palystes castaneus on nest. [image N. Larsen ] Palystes castaneus in threat posture, showing banding beneath the legs. [image N. Larsen ]
Palystes sp. mug shot.  

Palystes castaneus head-on. [image N. Larsen ]


Palystes castaneus is common from Cape Town to Heidelberg in the Western Cape. It appears to be more common in forested areas. and during November its egg cocoon is very common in low vegetation and hedges. It is replaced by Palystes superciliosus in scrub outside forested areas. 17-22mm.

It occurs mainly on plants where it hunts various insects but is also regularly found in the home where they are fond of hunting geckos (usually the common Marbled gecko, Afrogecko porphyreus). They usually appear in the home just before the onset of rain and the males are regularly seen in August to December, probably looking for females and also females busy foraging.

The female, in both Palystes castaneus and P. superciliosus , constructs an egg sac consisting of a roundish bag made of silk with leaves and twigs woven into it, which is about 60-100mm in size. The construction of this nursery and the laying of eggs takes about 3-5 hours. The eggs hatch inside and are protected within the bag of silk and leaves. During this time the female guards her brood aggressively. Many a gardener has been bitten by a protective Palystes mother. After about 21 days, the spiderlings chew their way out of the sac to join the world. These egg sacs are a common sight from about November to April. Mating takes place in early summer and the spider will produce about 3 egg cases in her 2 year life.

Pompilid wasps hunt down and kill this spider. For more, see under Palystes.

Palystes castaneus  

Palystes castaneus. [image N. Larsen ]


Text by Norman Larsen

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