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Katipo spider

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Katipo spider
Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Latrodectus katipo

False Katipo spider Steatoda capensis

The Katipo spider is a rare spider commonly found along the coast of Australia. It is approximately an inch in length. This spider builds it's webs between low-growing plants in order to catch beetles, moths, etc.


The Katipo spider's body is made up of two sections: the cehpalothorax and the abdomen. These two sections are connected by a thin pedicel. Like other spiders, it has four pairs of legs as well as four pairs of eyes.[1]

It completes respiration through page-like lungs called "book lungs." The Katipo spider using an open-circulatory system. This system is accomplished by bathing the internal organs with respiratory fluid unlike a closed-circulatory system where the blood remains in veins/arteries. The heart is a long tube running down the dorsal part inside the abdomen.[2]

In order to provide silk to construct it's web, it uses spinnerets in the posterior end of the abdomen, just below the anus.

The Katipo has an exoskeleton. The exoskeleton is constructed of a strong material called cuticle. Cuticle is made up of a protein embedded with chitin. These microfibers are layered, each layer with a different orientation, providing it's durability. [3]

The central part of the spider's nervous system is located in the cephalothorax. This brain is situated just below the stomach and behind it's eyes.


Near the end of summer or beginning of fall, the male begins his search for a female's web. Once found, the male will vibrate the web as he cautiously approaches the female. The female will usually chase the male from the web and the male, once again, returns. After a long time of repeating this sequence, the female will cooperate while the male inserts his palps one at a time, aligning his abdomen with hers. The male leaves the female between each insertion, lasting anywhere between 10-30 minutes. When November and December comes, the female prepares to lay her eggs. These eggs are about the size of a mustard seed and are transparent. The offspring will hatch after six weeks of incubation. These hatchlings will reach full maturity by next spring.[4]



Katipo spiders are restricted to specific habitats. They live near the coast among sand dunes. They establish their webs in short vegetation, beneath driftwood, stones, etc. They make these webs close to the ground in hopes of catching crawling insects for food. The Katipo spider commonly builds on the native pingao (Desmoschoenus spiralis)whose growth pattern creates patches of sand between each plant. This leaves space for the spider to spin it's web between plants where other insects travel through. It's web is a yellowish-white silk that is tangled together similar to the shape of a hammock.[5]


The Katipo Spider makes use of it's web in order to catch it's prey. It establishes it's web low to the ground in order to catch other invertebrates such as beetles as well as the occasional fly or moth. If the prey is much larger than the spider itself, it will approach the struggling prey and situate itself so that the spinnerets are facing the insect and it then wraps it in silk. The Katipo will then bite the insect, usually at the joints, before it delivers the final injection, killing the prey. After it has been immobilized, it takes it towards the upper part of the web where it is stored until it is ready to be ingested.

When the spider first captures it's prey, it injects it with paralyzing venom and digestive juices. These juices are left in the prey for a short while and the spider later sucks the pre-digested fluids out, leaving the empty exoskeleton of it's prey. The spider's mouth has a complex filtering system to prevent solid particles to enter. It is lined with fine hair and only particles smaller than 0.001 mm are able to pass through. Located just behind the mouth are microscopic teeth that also serve as filtering mechanisms.

The fluids then pass through the esophagus, leading into the sucking stomach. The stomach is powered by muscles with pull the fluids through the digestive tract. There are valves in this sucking stomach which are located in the entrance as well as the exit to ensure the fluid passes through one way. The midgut leads from the cepholathorax to the abdomen via the pedicel which eventually leads to the stercoral cavity where waste is stored. [6]

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