Whilst walking in the veld, it’s not only the big things you should look out for, keep your eyes open for the smaller things as well. The nest is easily mistaken for an animal spoor and the spider is often referred to as the buck spoor spider. It is a Southern African endemic (only occurs in this region) and includes 13 species that occur in sandy arid areas, 5 of which occur in South Africa. FACTS The genus Seothyra is sexually dimorphic (males and females have a different appearance).
They are bulky and cream, brown or grey in colour
They are 6-15 mm in length
Their head area (cephalic region) is raised
Their oval abdomen is plain or banded
They are sedentary
The carapace is yellow, brown or rust while the abdomen is covered in black and white setae, resulting in white oval or round patches than can be used to identify species.
The males range in size from 4-12mm
The cephalic region in the male slopes more steeply than the females and the anterior (front) legs are enlarged.
The males are cursorial (running) spiders, active in the heat of the day. They mimic the Camponotus ant (sugar ant) or mutillid wasps (velvet ants) in both appearance and movements.
The female constructs her burrow 50-150 mm into the sand at the top of which is the shallow depression. The female constructs a sheet of silk ingrained with the local sand rendering it invisible. The mat-like trapdoor has 2 to 4 depressions resembling a hoof imprint. The female waits in her burrow and uses a single strand of silk to detect vibrations of prey above, at which time she darts out and overpowers the prey crossing her web. Seothyra spiders may also hang inverted underneath the sheet web. Both males and females are most active on hot days when the ground temperature is about 65 degrees centigrade.
So next time you go explore, don’t only think of looking at animals and different birds, keep an eye out for the fascinating smaller things!
Article and Images By Marco Fitchet