What is an Avondale spider?


Quick Answer

The Avondale spider is a type of huntsman spider that was introduced to the Avondale area in New Zealand, earning the spider its title. Huntsman spiders are native to Southern Australia, where they are called the flat huntsman spider. The Avondale spider is known to scientists as Delena cancerides.

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Full Answer

Huntsman spiders do not spin webs; instead, they lie in wait, sitting motionlessly for prey to walk by. Once they spot prey, the huntsman ambushes it, immobilizing their prey with a venomous bite. The venom liquefies the internal structures of their prey, which the spiders then ingest. Avondale spiders prefer to remain in small, enclosed spaces, such as under tree bark, which scientists suspect is the reason for their flat shape.

Unlike most other spiders, which are solitary animals, Avondale spiders are occasionally colonial. Some have even been documented sharing prey — a very unusual habit for spiders. However, the spiders defend their territory against spiders from other colonies, attacking trespassers aggressively.

Avondale spiders are well-known among scientists for their docile personality. They rarely bite when handled, and the symptoms of the venom are characterized as mild. Because they are so gentle and are safely maintained in colonies, Avondale spiders were used to make the film “Arachnophobia.”

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