New spider species discovered in KZN
A forest-dwelling widow species of button spider has been discovered in KwaZulu-Natal and has been named the Phinda button spider. According to the Wild Tomorrow Fund (WTF) Entomology, the spider is one of the largest button spiders in the world and the largest in Africa.
The spiders have been found so far only in sand forests, a critically endangered habitat found mainly in SA and southern Mozambique.
The first specimen was found in Tembe Elephant Park and the spider was monitored for two years until it died, leaving egg sacs.
What makes the spider unique, according to the researchers, is that it lays three, bright purple egg sacs. No other button spider in the world has egg sacs that colour. The spider's eggs are purple only when first produced, then turn into a grey-like colour.
According to WTF Entomology, before the Phinda button spider was discovered there were 31 recognised spider species across the world, with eight of them recorded in Africa.