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I recently learned of a new spider species.

Yes, this post is about spiders.  Yes, there’s a jump so as to hide any spider photos.  But it might not show if you see this post on a medium other than the site.

ANYWAY!  NEW SPIDER SPECIES!  Not that this is a previously undiscovered species of spiders.  It’s just that I had never seen one before.  And they look SO. INTERESTING.  Want to see?  Of course you do.

LOOK!  IT LOOKS JUST LIKE A CRAB!  And it has spikies on it’s abdomen!

So, this is the Gasteracantha cancriformis, otherwise known as the star spiderspiny-backed orbweaverspiny orbweaver spidercrab-like orbweaver spidercrab-like spiny orbweaver spiderjewel spiderspiny-bellied orbweaverjewel box spider or smiley face spider.  It…has a lot of names.

Here’s a picture of another one:

DO THEY NOT LOOK INTERESTING?

I have no idea what these spikes are for.  Decoration, perhaps?  My very cursory research didn’t turn anything up.

They aren’t terribly big spiders, though.  The biggest they get is 30mm measured from spike to spike.  That’s a bit less than 1.25 inches.  Normally they’re about 9mm across (a bit bigger than 0.25 inch).  They also aren’t long-lived spiders.  They live until just after mating (and females until after laying an egg sac).  Seeing as how they normally hatch in winter and mating is in the spring…that’s not very long at all.

Their very short lifespan might be why I’ve never seen one before.  Also, it looks like there aren’t any in California.  I did find one site that said that their range extends into SoCal, but I’ve never seen any here.  Mostly just wolf spiders and the like.  And the ever present brown widows.

Anyway, I found out about these spiders via a friend from Florida.  She said she used to PLAY WITH THEM AS A CHILD!  I don’t really know how you play with a spider…it’s not like you can teach them tricks or anything.  But still, SHE PLAYED WITH SPIDERS AS A CHILD!  That automatically means she had an awexome childhood.  (Incidentally, she says she’s terrified of them now.  It’s like the opposite of me.  Well, I don’t play with spiders presently, but I find them quite interesting now.)

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