Identify this South African spider

Identify this South African spider

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A family member saw this spider in her garden in the Cape Town area of South Africa. It's very attractive and I wondered what species it was?

Approx size is that it would fit roughly on a 3cm diameter circle.

Based on the location and image you provided, I suspect this spider to be Garden Orb-Weaver, belonging to the spider family Araneidae.

Just a side note: I used an app called iNaturalist to identify this spider. It is a helpful app to identify insects and plants.

Here is a similar image I found online:

South Carolina Spiders: Pictures and Identification

Welcome to South Carolina spiders, where the large Carolina Wolf Spider is recognized as the official state spider.

With a body and legs that can measure up to four inches in length, it’s often cited as the largest native wolf spider. It’s in a genus called Hogna and all of the Hogna species are large and can be a bit difficult to identify. Start with body color, usually gray-brown along with a dark stripe down the center of the abdomen. The legs are long and hairy.

This introduction to South Carolina spiders provides a variety of common types of spiders found in and around the home and garden. While no official checklist of South Carolina spiders exist, estimates of the spider population usually start at about six hundred species. It could be more.

Visitors looking for more spider identification help are invited to press the Spider Pics button. It leads to articles covering over one hundred of the most common spider species.

Continuing with the Wolf spiders, numerous species abound in South Carolina, the same as all states. With few exceptions, the large number of Wolf spiders makes for difficult if not impossible field identification absent a good microscope for most species.

Seeing a female carrying an egg sac on the bottom of the abdomen is probably the easiest way to identify a specimen to the family lever. The picture shows a generic wolf spider. Note how the body color tends to be dull to blend into its background settings.

One wolf spider without a common name, Arctosa littoralis might be an exception to the hard to identify rule.

It’s found along shorelines and riverbanks. Notice the circles on the abdomen. That’s rare for wolf spiders.

Hacklemesh Weavers are an odd type of spider often found near trees. The picture shows Metaltella simoni. They were first introduced to Florida from South America and spread across the southeast, including South Carolina.

Crab spiders from a few different families often can be found sunning and hunting in South Carolina back yards. Body color is not the best field identification clue for the Crab Spiders in the family Thomisidae.

According to BugGuide, eye pattern helps distinguish between some crab spider species. For example, in the genus Misumena, “All four anterior (front) eyes are about the same size. When viewed from the front, and a little above, it seems all eight eyes are visible and form a crescent shape.”.

Another family of Crab Spiders, Running Crab Spiders are also very common species in residential areas.

One look at the Oblong Running spider explains the nickname for the members of the Tibellus genus, Slender Crab Spiders. Usually the Oblongus do not have as many black dots along the abdomen as the specimen in the picture.

Orbweavers, the spiders that spin flat, round webs can be found most seasons in South Carolina. Some species, especially those in the genus Araneus such as the Marbled Orb Weaver are present from spring through fall. Adults die off and the young overwinter and start the growth process as soon as it warms.

Sometimes winter temperatures are too cold to support some of the sub-tropical species. The picture shows a Golden Silk Orbweaver, the spider with the largest orb web in the United States. In some of South Carolina’s warmer areas, it’s been a steady resident.

According to employees of Congaree National Park, a changing climate and warmer inland temperatures mean that the spider has established permanent residence at the park.

Wooded and forest habitats are a favorite web building environment. Care on trails is suggested to avoid a face full of spider web.

ARgiope orb weavers such as the Yellow Garden Spider (Argiope aurantia) are common throughout the state. Less well known is the fact that the Florida garden spider (Argiope florida) also can be found in the state.

Terrestrial Arthropod Predators of Insect and Mite Pests

K.S. HAGEN , . J.A. MCMURTRY , in Handbook of Biological Control , 1999


There is some evidence that the Clubionidae are significant predators of lepidopteran pests under some conditions. This family consists of hunting spiders that are primarily nocturnal and commonly construct silken tubes for retreats. Bishop and Blood (1981) showed direct numerical relationships between clubiionid, Chiracanthium diversum Koch and oxyopid Oxyopes mundulus Koch with larval populations of Heliothis on cotton in Australia. The former species was considered more important because of its numerical dominance, its densities sometimes being nearly as high as Heliothis spp. Although these spiders were considered incapable of controlling the pests by themselves, their role as part of the predator complex was considered important, as was their apparent ability to regulate small numbers of the larvae present between peaks in Heliothis activity. Chiracanthium mildei Koch was the dominant species of spider on apple trees in Israel in an experiment in which spiders were removed from three to six apple trees and egg masses of S. littoralis (Boisduval) were added ( Mansour et al., 1980a ). Spodoptera littoralis larvae and leaf damage were observed 5 days later on the trees from which spiders were removed, while on the control trees no live larvae or damaged leaves were observed. In addition to causing direct mortality, these spiders also were observed to interfere with the colonization and aggregation behavior of the larvae ( Mansour et al., 1981 ). Chiracanthium mildei also showed a functional response to increasing densities of 4-day-old Spodoptera larvae ( Mansour et al., 1980b ). The response by individual spiders starved 4 days leveled off at about 180 larvae consumed in an 18-h. period at prey densities of 250 and 300 larvae per cage. It has been pointed out that spiders may consume considerably more prey in the laboratory than would be available in the field ( Nyffeler & Benz, 1987 ).

Highlights of the DIPTATEACH project

Online database of the Syrphidae of South Africa:

The collection data of the Syrphidae in the KZNM Diptera collection, including those from South Africa, can be found here

The PINDIP website currently contains > 400 high resolution stacking photos of Aftrotropical Syrphidae.

A training in general entomology (with a focus on Diptera of the Afrotropical Region) will be organized for young and emerging South African researchers. The training will take place in 2021 at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (Pietermaritzburg). More information will soon be provided here

Zlookup only needs an active phone number to perform name search. We not only search our own phone number databases, we also request mobile phone companies to return phone owner's name. If the phone number is not active, we might not be able to return any useful information. Also if the mobile phone is owned and paid for the person's employer, you will see the employer's name in the result. We believe that we provide the most up to date phone ownership information that can be had online. Please let your friends and family know about our service - we only ask that you share our service if you like it.

The only other free way to looking up owner's name for a phone number is by just searching for the phone number on google. If the phone number is listed on any website that has been indexed by google, you will be able to see the web page. This does not guarantee that you will be able to find out who the owner of the phone number is. If the phone number belongs to a business, you will be able to find the business name and location by google search. If the phone number belongs to an individual, the odds of finding any related content to the phone number is very low. Your best bet would be to use Zlookup to lookup phone numbers.

Identification keys for Australian species of Acacia (selected references).

Note: It is expected that future developments of WorldWideWattle will include an on-line identification tool for Australian Acacias.


Maslin, B.R. (coordinator) (2018). WATTLE Acacias of Australia. Version 3. (Published by Australian Biological Resources Study, Canberra, Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions, Perth and Identic Pty. Ltd., Brisbane).

Australian Capital Territory

Burbidge, N.T. and Gray, M. (1970). Flora of the Australian Capital Territory. (Australian National University Press: Canberra.)

Central Australia

Maslin, B.R. (1981). Acacia. In Flora of Central Australia (J.Jessop, ed.), pp. 115�. (A.H. & A.W.Reed: Sydney.)

New South Wales

Armitage, I. (1978). Acacias of New South Wales. (New South Wales Region of the Society for Growing Australian Plants)

Beadle, N. (1976, reprinted 1982). Students Flora of north eastern New South Wales. Part III. (University of New Engleand: Armidale, N.S.W.)

Carolin, R.C. and Tindale, M.D. (1994). Flora of the Sydney Region. 4 th ed. (Reed: Chatswood.)

Cunningham, G.M., Mulham, W.E., Milthorpe, P.L. and Leigh, J.H. (1981). Plants of Western New South Wales. (NSW Government Printing Office in association with the Soil Conservation Service of NSW: Sydney.). Although this excellent publication does not contain a key to species it is a very useful pictorial guide to about half of the N.S.W. Acacia flora descriptions of taxa are also provided.

Fairley, A. and Moore, P. (1989). Native Plants of the Sydney District. (Kangaroo Press and The Society for Growing Australian Plants: Sydney.)

Kodela, P.G. and Harden, G.J. (2002). Acacia. In Flora of New South Wales (G.J.Harden, ed.), vol. 2, 2nd edn, pp. 381�. (Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust: Sydney.)

National Herbarium of New South Wales. WattleWeb: a web guide to wattles of New South Wales, including an electronic key also Electronic Flora of South Australia]

South-eastern Australia

Costermans, L. (1981). Native Trees and Shrubs of South-eastern Australia. (Rigby Publishers Ltd, Adelaide.)

Tame, T. (1992). Acacias of Southeast Australia. (Kangaroo Press: Kenthurst.)


Curtis, W.M. (1975). The students flora of Tasmania. Part 1 (second edition), revised by W.M. Curtis and D.I. Morris. (Government Printer: Tasmania.)


Costermans, L. (1994). Trees of Victoria, ed. 5. (Landsdowne Publishing: Sydney.)

Court, A.B. (1973). In J.H. Willis, A handbook to the Plants in Victoria. vol. 2. (Melbourne University Press on behalf of The Maud Gibson Gardens Trust: Melbourne.)

Entwistle, T.J., Maslin, B.R., Cowan, R.S. and Court, A.B. (1996). Mimosaceae. In Flora of Victoria (N.G.Walsh and T.J.Entwistle, eds), vol. 3, 585�. (Inkata Press, Melbourne.)

Western Australia

Lewington, M.A. (1998). Mimosaceae. In B.J.Grieve, How to Know Western Australian Wildflowers, part II, 2nd edn, pp. 140�. (University of Western Australia Press, Nedlands, in association with the Wildflower Society of Western Australia, Floreat.)

Maslin, B.R. (1982). Studies in the genus Acacia (Leguminosae: Mimosoideae), 11, Acacia species of the Hamersley Range area, Western Australia. Nuytsia 4: 61�.

Maslin, B.R. (1998). Wattles of the Kalannie region: their identification, characteristics and utilisation. (CDROM Publ. for the Kalannie Land Care District by Dept. Conservation and Land Management, Perth.)

Wheeler, J.R. (1992). Acacia. In Flora of the Kimberley Region (J.R.Wheeler, B.L.Rye, B.L.Koch and A.J.G.Wilson, eds), pp. 284�. (Western Australian Herbarium, Department of Conservation and Land Management: Como.)


Commonly utilised species

(See also references under State listings above)

Extra-Australian phyllodinous species

Pedley, L. (1975). Revision of the extra-Australian species of Acacia subg. Heterophyllum. Contributions from the Queensland Herbarium 18: 1󈞄.

Animal Diversity Web

Achatina fulica originated in the coastal areas and islands of East Africa, where it presumably got the nickname, “Giant African Snail.” The snail inhabits countries ranging from Mozambique in the south, to Kenya and Somalia in the north. It is not only found in East Africa on the coastal areas and islands, but it has also been introduced to many other countries in Africa, along with many countries worldwide. The snail has been introduced into countries as far apart as the United States to Australia, and countries in-between. Achatina fulica is not a migratory species and has therefore been introduced through other means to the countries outside of East Africa, possibly through agricultural transportation, commerce, trade, vehicle attachment, smuggling, and other accidental and purposeful ways. ("Achatina fulica", 2014a "Giant African snail", 2013 "Lissachatina fulica", 2014 "Snails (Giant East African Snail)", 2012 Cowie, 2010 Egonmwan, 2007 Stokes, 2006 Vogler, et al., 2013)


The giant African land snail has a natural habitat located in Africa, where there is a tropical climate with warm, year round temperatures, and high humidity. The snail has adapted and has been able to thrive in temperate climates as well. This species prefers areas of low to mid-elevation, with temperature preference between nine degrees Celsius and twenty-nine degrees Celsius. Achatina fulica can survive less ideal conditions, such as two degrees Celsius by hibernation and thirty degrees Celsius by aestivation. The snail can be found in agricultural areas, coastal areas, wetlands, disturbed areas, forests, urban areas, and riparian zones. The snails need temperatures above freezing and preferably high humidity in order to thrive the best. They have adapted to dry and cooler areas, however, by being able to hibernate in soft soil during the unfavorable weather conditions. ("Achatina fulica", 2014a "Snails (Giant East African Snail)", 2012 Cowie, 2010 Stokes, 2006 Vogler, et al., 2013)

  • Habitat Regions
  • temperate
  • tropical
  • terrestrial
  • Terrestrial Biomes
  • savanna or grassland
  • forest
  • Other Habitat Features
  • urban
  • agricultural
  • riparian

Physical Description

The giant African snail can be distinguished from other snails due to their large size when mature, the snail can reach up to eight inches (30 centimeters) in length with a diameter of four inches (10 centimeters). The snail can reach up to thirty-two grams in weight. The snail has the physical features that are associated with the phylum Mollusca, including a shell. The shell of Achatina fulica is cone-shaped and has a height that is twice that of the width. When the snail is mature and full-grown, the shell will normally consist of seven to nine whorls. The color of the snail differs depending on the environment, as some are primarily brown or dark colored, with dark stripes and streaks that run across the whorls, while others are reddish-brown with pale yellow vertical markings. ("Achatina fulica", 2014a "Achatina fulica", 2014b "Giant African Land Snail", 2008 "Giant African snail", 2013 "Pest Alert", 2011 "Snails (Giant East African Snail)", 2012 Cowie, 2010 Stokes, 2006)

  • Other Physical Features
  • ectothermic
  • heterothermic
  • bilateral symmetry
  • Average mass 32 g 1.13 oz
  • Range length 30 (high) cm 11.81 (high) in


The fertilized eggs of A. fulica are laid in a nest, or in the dirt and leaves, so as to protect and disguise the eggs. The eggs then hatch and become immature snails, which grow to adulthood in about six months. Achatina fulica is one of many land snails, which do not have a larvae phase like other Gastropod species. ("Achatina fulica", 2014a "Achatina fulica", 2014b)


Achatina fulica is hermaphroditic each individual snail has both male and female reproductive parts. There are no distinguishing parts separating sexes because each snail contains both sex reproductive systems. They do not self-fertilize, so the snails need to mate with another snail of their species. As a Stylommatophiora , Achatina fulica does not mate randomly the snails mate with respect to age and size of other snails. Immature, small snails that are still growing produce only spermatozoa, while larger, mature adults produce both spermatozoa and ova. There is an age dependent mate choice when it comes to young snails because they need and prefer older adults to mate with. Young giant African snails copulate at all hours of the night, while older adults mate in the middle of the night. The snails choose their mates with respect to size and age, but the reproductive stage-dependent mate is a more attractive mate than the body size-dependent mate choice. Mating occurs when one snail encounters a prospective partner that the individual snail deems acceptable to mate with. When two individual snails mate, there is a possibility that gametes will be transferred to each one by the other simultaneously. However, this is only the case if the snails are around the same size. If there is a size difference, the larger snail will act as the female and the gametes will only be transferred from the smaller snail to the larger snail, mating unilaterally. ("Achatina fulica", 2014a "Giant African Land Snail", 2008 "Giant African snail", 2013 "Lissachatina fulica", 2014 "Pest Alert", 2011 Cowie, 2010 Egonmwan, 2007 Tomiyama, 1996)

When two A. fulica encounter and deem each other worthy mates, they will mate by one mounting the shell of the other. The mating will begin once the two snails exchange sperm with one another. The sperm is used to fertilize the eggs in the snails, but it can also be stored inside the body for up to two years. The fertilized eggs are laid between eight and twenty days after mating has occurred, and are deposited in nests or among rocks and soils on the ground. The eggs usually hatch at temperatures above fifteen degrees Celsius. The eggs, under the right conditions, will hatch after eleven to fifteen days into small snails. The number of eggs that an individual snail lays often depends on the maturity and age of the snail and is between 100 to 500 eggs. Giant African snails have no specific season of mating, as they are able to produce new clutches every two to three months. ("Achatina fulica", 2014a "Giant African snail", 2013 Egonmwan, 2007 Tomiyama, 1996)

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • iteroparous
  • year-round breeding
  • sequential hermaphrodite
    • protandrous
    • internal
    • Breeding interval The giant African snail breeds every two to three months.
    • Breeding season Breeding can take place any time of the year.
    • Range number of offspring 100 to 500
    • Average number of offspring 200
    • Range gestation period 11 to 15 days
    • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female) 6 months
    • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male) 6 months

    The parents of Achatina fulica do not contribute to the lives of their offspring except for fertilization and laying of the eggs in nests or soil. Once the eggs are hatched, the small individuals are on their own and adopt the territory that their parent provided them. (Cowie, 2010 Egonmwan, 2007)


    Achatina fulica can live on average between three and five years, with some individuals reaching as old as ten years. There is not much difference between the lifespans in the wild and in captivity. In their natural habitat, predators are a main cause of mortality of Achatina fulica , however as they have become an invasive species, their new habitats contain close to zero predators. The snails usually die due to natural causes or non-favorable living conditions. Recently, there have been developments in molluscicides that have been impactful on killing this species, in order to better control their population in unwanted areas. ("Achatina fulica", 2014a "Lissachatina fulica", 2014 Cowie, 2010)

    • Range lifespan
      Status: wild 10 (high) years
    • Typical lifespan
      Status: wild 3 to 5 years
    • Typical lifespan
      Status: captivity 3 to 5 years


    Achatina fulica is a solitary species. The parents do not have an impact in their offsprings’ lives once the eggs are hatched, so the solitary behavior is intact from the beginning. It is not possible for A. fulica to self-fertilize, so courtship and interaction is a necessary aspect of their lives. Movement is an important aspect of their lives as it is necessary for mating, finding food, and escaping threats. Achatina fulica secretes a slime-like substance that allows for smooth and easy travel during its movement. The substance protects and allows travel across rough and sharp surfaces. Achatina fulica is a nocturnal species and lies dormant during the day. The snails often bury themselves in soil, in order to stay cool and remain hidden from threats. Giant African snails can also survive cold conditions by aestivating they become slow and sluggish as they wait for warmer and more desired conditions to occur. ("Lissachatina fulica", 2014 "Pest Alert", 2011)

    • Key Behaviors
    • terricolous
    • nocturnal
    • motile
    • sedentary
    • aestivation
    • solitary

    Communication and Perception

    Achatina fulica does not need to communicate often, as it is not a social species. The time of communication among the species takes place in the process of mating, as one will mount the back of another individual. Communication takes place as there is a change in the position of the head, along with changes in the movement of the body. The changes in the body and head are communication cues that indicate that the mating process will continue. Achatina fulica does not have hearing as a sense, so it relies on its other senses to perceive the environment. This species also has caudal tentacles the upper pair of tentacles have eyes at the tips and the lower pair have the sensory organ that allows for smell. This species has a strong sense of smell, which assists in finding food sources. The combination of smell and sight is how this species perceives the environment around them and allows for the detection of food, mates, and potential threats. ("Achatina fulica", 2014a "Giant African snail", 2013 Cowie, 2010 Egonmwan, 2007)

    Food Habits

    Giant African snails are herbivores. Achatina fulica feeds primarily on vascular plant matter, having no preference whether it is living or dead matter. This snail species has a strong sense of smell that assists in attracting and leading the individuals to garden crops and other plant resources. These snails have different preferences with their ages young members of this species feed on decaying matter and unicellular algae. They also prefer soft textured Musa (bananas), Beta vulgaris (beets), and Tagetes patula (marigolds). More mature and developed African snails prefer to feed on living plants and vegetation. The mature snails broaden their spectrum of preferred plants to consume including: Solanum melongena (eggplant), Cucumis sativus (cucumber), Cucurbita pepo (pumpkin), and many others. This species has also been found to feed on other snails, lichens, fungi, and animal matter. The radula, a distinguishing characteristic of Gastropods, is essential in the ability to eat a variety of foods. The radula is a toothed ribbon used to scrape or cut food, and allows for the ability to pick up food and begin the digestive process with ease. ("Achatina fulica", 2014a "Giant African Land Snail", 2008 "Lissachatina fulica", 2014 "Snails (Giant East African Snail)", 2012 Cowie, 2010)

    • Primary Diet
    • herbivore
      • folivore
      • frugivore
      • Animal Foods
      • mollusks
      • Plant Foods
      • leaves
      • wood, bark, or stems
      • seeds, grains, and nuts
      • fruit
      • flowers
      • lichens
      • algae
      • Other Foods
      • fungus
      • detritus


      Achatina fulica has a shell from the beginning of its life until the end. The shell is used for protection against the environmental conditions and potential predators. The shell also provides protection for the internal organs against outside forces. The colors of A. fulica tend to be more earthy tones, as to not stand out in its environments and to be more camouflaged from the sight of their predators. Predators of Achatina fulica includes many species of rodents, wild boars, terrestrial crustaceans, and other species of snails. ("Giant African Land Snail", 2008 "Lissachatina fulica", 2014 "Snails (Giant East African Snail)", 2012)

      • Known Predators
        • Christmas Island red crab, Gecarcoidea natalis
        • cannibal snail, Euglandina rosea
        • land snail, Gonaxis quadrilateralis
        • fire ants, Solenopsis geminata
        • hermit crabs, Paguroidea
        • Malayan field rat, Rattus tiomanicus
        • Polynesian rat, Rattus exulans
        • Rice-field rat, Rattus argentiventer
        • wild boar, Sus scrofa
        • New Guinea flatworm, Platydemus manokwari

        Ecosystem Roles

        Achatina fulica has several different ecosystem roles. This species decomposes and consumes dead vegetation. The benefit of this ecosystem role is that the snail assists in recycling nutrients and the building blocks essential to life. Giant African snails are also part of the food chain, as they are a source of food to many predators. This species is also a host to parasitic organisms, such as Angiostrongylus cantonensis, the rat lungworm. The parasitic organisms live and thrive on this host and can be transported to other hosts, such as humans, through the consumption of the snails. ("Achatina fulica", 2014a "Achatina fulica", 2014b Carvalho, et al., 2003 Cowie, 2010 Stokes, 2006)

        Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

        Snails are often seen as a delicacy for humans and A. fulica is no exception. Humans around the world consume giant African snails as a source of protein when prepared correctly. This species is also a cheap alternative in some regions as a source of fish feed in fish farming, as they breed quickly and in large amounts. Achatina fulica can also be beneficial in making fertilizer, chicken feed, and biological compounds in clinical and experimental laboratories. ("Achatina fulica", 2014a "Lissachatina fulica", 2014 Stokes, 2006)

        Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

        Giant African snails are an invasive species across that world. It has become illegal to have possession of these snails in countries where it has been introduced. Achatina fulica has a large and broad diet preference the dietary habits of this species cause a high loss in crops for farmers. They are considered an agricultural pest, costing farmers not only their crops but also economic costs. This species is also a carrier of many parasitic organisms, including organisms that harm people and plants. Serious illness and diseases can erupt in humans if they consume giant African snails. Achatina fulica also destroys and pollutes its surroundings, including soil. When an individual of this species dies, the calcium carbonate found in the shells neutralizes the soil the neutralization of the soil and the altering of its properties affect the types of plants that can grow in the soil. Achatina fulica can cost cities, states, or countries millions of dollars in not only agricultural costs, but also in attempts to control this invasive species. ("Achatina fulica", 2014a "Achatina fulica", 2014b "Giant African Land Snail", 2008 "Lissachatina fulica", 2014 "Species Profiles: Giant African Snail", 2014 Carvalho, et al., 2003 Cowie, 2010 Stokes, 2006)

        Conservation Status

        Achatina fulica is not currently vulnerable, threatened, nor endangered.

        • IUCN Red List Not Evaluated
        • US Federal List No special status
        • CITES No special status
        • State of Michigan List No special status


        Taylor Hoffman (author), Grand View University, Nicole Pirie (author), Grand View University, Felicitas Avendano (editor), Grand View University, Dan Chibnall (editor), Grand View University, Angela Miner (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.


        Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.

        living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.

        living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

        living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

        living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

        living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.

        having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

        helps break down and decompose dead plants and/or animals

        an animal which directly causes disease in humans. For example, diseases caused by infection of filarial nematodes (elephantiasis and river blindness).

        uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

        particles of organic material from dead and decomposing organisms. Detritus is the result of the activity of decomposers (organisms that decompose organic material).

        animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature

        union of egg and spermatozoan

        an animal that mainly eats leaves.

        A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.

        forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

        an animal that mainly eats fruit

        An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.

        having a body temperature that fluctuates with that of the immediate environment having no mechanism or a poorly developed mechanism for regulating internal body temperature.

        ovulation is stimulated by the act of copulation (does not occur spontaneously)

        fertilization takes place within the female's body

        referring to animal species that have been transported to and established populations in regions outside of their natural range, usually through human action.

        offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

        having the capacity to move from one place to another.

        the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

        found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

        reproduction in which eggs are released by the female development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

        the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.

        condition of hermaphroditic animals (and plants) in which the male organs and their products appear before the female organs and their products

        Referring to something living or located adjacent to a waterbody (usually, but not always, a river or stream).

        reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

        mature spermatozoa are stored by females following copulation. Male sperm storage also occurs, as sperm are retained in the male epididymes (in mammals) for a period that can, in some cases, extend over several weeks or more, but here we use the term to refer only to sperm storage by females.

        uses touch to communicate

        that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).

        the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

        A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.

        A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

        A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.

        living in cities and large towns, landscapes dominated by human structures and activity.

        South Africa’s Big Five of Dangerous Spiders

        South Africa is home to over 3,000 known species of spiders, many of which are found in our homes, gardens and natural surroundings. They're an integral part of our natural ecosystems and play an invaluable role in controlling pests. But that doesn&rsquot mean that the mere mention of the dreaded &lsquoS word&rsquo doesn&rsquot strike fear into even the bravest of us. Therefore, knowing what these Arachnoid kings and queens are all about, how to identify them and what to do if you, or someone you know, get bitten makes all the difference. Especially with South African &lsquospider season&rsquo being upon us with spiders and spider bites in South Africa increasing during the warm summer months, it&rsquos more important than ever to be aware and prepared!

        Knowledge on spider and spider bites in South Africa is especially important when you have kids. Little ones tend to run around and explore all sorts of hideaways and hard-to-reach spots, thereby putting them at an increased risk of getting bitten by a spider. But that certainly doesn&rsquot mean the rest of us are immune to this danger, children however have a higher risk of developing complications from a venomous spider bite, and extra precautions should thus be taken. . However, of all the spiders and spider bites in South Africa only a select few are harmful to humans. In order to equip you with the necessary knowledge on which South African spiders are venomous, namely the BIG 5 of dangerous spiders, we have prepared this spider and spider bite in South Africa guide to help you out.

        While most of the spider species found in South Africa are harmless, there certainly are a few that are incredibly venomous. To minimise the risk, both for yourself and your children, it is extremely beneficial to know how to identify these venomous local spiders, what common signs and symptoms of these specific spider bites are and what do if someone is bitten:

        Not only is this night-dwelling spider considered by many experts to be South Africa&rsquos most dangerous spider, it is also estimated to be responsible for nearly three quarters of all reported spider bites. This certainly earns the Sac Spider the number 1 spot on the big 5 spider list.

        • How to identify them: The Sac Spider is characterised by a black head, pale yellow body and large abdomen. The arrangement of the legs is also a distinct marker with two pairs directed forwards and two pairs backwards.
        • Type of venom: These spiders have a cytotoxic venom. Cytotoxic venom affects the tissue that is destroyed around the bite and can cause considerable tissue damage. The symptoms develop gradually and often the person is unaware that he/she has been bitten until the area around the bite becomes painful and eventually forms a large lesion. It is therefore important to regularly check your child for spider bites.
        • Signs & symptoms of a bite: Because Sac Spiders are night dwellers most people tend to be bitten in their sleep. The bite is painless and often two fang bite marks, approximately 4-8mm apart, is the only marker of a bite. The bite is known to form a &lsquobull&rsquos eye&rsquo lesion with the surrounding area progressively becoming red and swollen. An ulcerating wound can often be formed.
        • Treatment: Majority of Sac Spider bites heal spontaneously. Treatment options are often directed at preventing any secondary infection with antibiotics or local antiseptics. The wound takes approximately 4 weeks to heal, however in severe cases it can take up to a decade for the area to recover.
        • Favourite hangouts: Sac Spiders are generally found outdoors but if they are indoors your curtains, clothing, bedding and tablecloths are some of their favourite hangout spots.

        This is probably the most well-known South African spider and can be classified into two categories, the deadly black widow or black button spider and the less venomous brown button spider. Let&rsquos take a closer look at both of them.

        • How to identify a Black Widow spider: Shiny black body with a distinguished red spot, tear-drop or stripe on its round belly. The females are also much larger than the males, trumping them in size with a staggering 11mm compared to 4mm.
        • How to identify a Brown Widow spider: Their colour varies from cream, grey, and brown to pitch black. Brown widow spiders also have the same red spot marking on the belly.
        • Type of venom: Button spiders have a neurotoxic venom which affects the nervous system and bites are often accompanied by severe pain.
        • Sign and symptoms of a Black Widow spider bite: Black Widow spiders are far more venomous than Brown Widow spiders and therefore the bite is accompanied by an increased amount of pain. A bite from a Black Widow spider can also result in generalised muscle pain and cramps, limb pain, stiffness of the abdomen, leg weakness, profuse sweating, raised blood pressure and restlessness. These symptoms can also be exacerbated in small children, so keep a close eye!
        • Signs and symptoms of a Brown Widow spider bite: These symptoms are far milder and tend to be restricted to the bite site itself. You will experience local burning that may spread to the surrounding tissue. The bite site is typically visible and surrounded by a localised rash. This usually clears up within a day or 2.
        • Treatment: A Black Widow spider bite requires the person to be hospitalised and a close eye to be kept on the vital signs for 24hours. In severe cases the administration of an antivenom is the only effective treatment. But there is some really good news just before you start to worry, no deaths from button spiders have been recorded in the last 50 years, let&rsquos be sure to keep it that way!
        • Favourite hangouts: These spiders are found all over South Africa, but typically reside in dark quiet places. Their favourite hangouts definitely are outbuildings and windowsills. So be sure to check your child for any bite marks after they&rsquove been playing around in these areas.
        • How to identify them: These spiders are found across South Africa and can be identified by their brown, and sometimes reddish-brown &lsquoviolin shaped body&rsquo with dark markings. These spiders range anywhere from 8-19mm in size.
        • Type of venom: Violin spiders have a cytotoxic venom and therefore affect the tissue around the bite mark. It can also cause additional tissue damage.
        • Signs and symptoms of a bite: A bite from a Violin spider is usually small and painless and it therefore often goes unnoticed until the venom starts eating away at the tissue. As with any cytotoxic spider it is important to regularly check your children for bite marks as they often won&rsquot present with any pain. As the symptoms are progressive it usually swells after a few hours and becomes discoloured, often developing a purple centre. This is further followed by blistering and peeling of the skin, often leaving an open wound.
        • Treatment: There is no antivenom for Violin spider bites, therefore treatment involves the surgical removal of dead flesh. The main focus is preventing any secondary infection from occurring once bitten. Untreated bites can result in additional infections, necrosis and septicaemia.
        • Favourite hangouts: The Violin spider can usually be found in grassland areas as well as caves with only one known species being introduced into houses. These spiders are nocturnal in nature and therefore often wander into your clothes, shoes and bedding at night.
        • How to identify them: True to their name the Six-eyed Sand Spider is a brown spider that is often covered in sand particles that adhere to their bodies. They are also often referred to having a &lsquocrab-like&rsquo appearance.
        • Type of venom: The venom of the Six-eyed Sand Spider is both hemolytic and necrotoxic, causing leaking blood vessels and destroyed tissues.
        • Signs and symptoms of a bite: The venom elicited by the Six-eyed Sand Spider is believed to cause extensive local tissue destruction and may also result in serious internal haemorrhage. Bites can additionally cause blood vessel leakage and multi-organ breakdown.
        • Treatment: There have thus far been no reported cases of a human being bitten by a Six-eyed Sand Spider. If you do suspect that you or your child has been bitten, seek medical attention.
        • Favourite hangouts: You can find these notoriously shy spiders buried in the sand waiting for their prey to arrive. They are fond of sparsely-habited desert areas like the Namibia and Kalahari Desert. It is estimated that a Six-eyed Sand Spider can survive up to a year without food and water, so if you&rsquore challenging these sand crawlers to a waiting game you&rsquore guaranteed to loose.
        • How to identify them: A sub-family of the tarantula, the Baboon spider includes more than 40 individual species in South Africa alone. These spiders are characterised by their large hairy bodies, pads on their feet and the distinct resemblance their 2 last segments on their legs have to that of a baboon&rsquos fingers. The Baboon spider is also very popular in the Western Cape.
        • Sign and symptoms of a bite: A bite from a Baboon spider will cause a localised burning sensation at the site of the bite. You will also experience additional vomiting and dizziness. Not all species of the Baboon spider are venomous, and all of them are unlikely to attack unless they are provoked.
        • Treatment: A bite from a Baboon spider isn&rsquot fatal, but it is important that you get checked out be a doctor to treat the secondary symptoms.
        • Favourite hangouts: These spiders favour dry shrub lands and often live in burrows.

        Now that you know which spiders make up the &lsquoSpider Big 5&rsquo, here are a couple of extra helpful tips on spiders and spider bites in South Africa and what to do if your child does get bitten by a spider:

        • Wash the area with soap and water
        • Put a cool wet cloth on the bite site to relieve swelling and pain
        • Shows signs of an allergic reaction
        • Experiences severe pain or cramping
        • Develops any kind of rash following a spider bite
        • The bite site starts to show signs of infection (redness, swelling, warmth, pain, pus)
        • You suspect that your child has been bitten by a black widow spider and/or any other extremely venomous spider

        Prevention is ALWAYS better than cure! Here are a couple of important preventative tips for spider and spider bites in South Africa that parents can implement to protect their children against spider bites:

        Wildlife Conservation for Teens

        This project gives you a real and unfiltered look into South Africa’s iconic wildlife. However, unlike a traditional tourist safari, you will learn about conservation issues in the region and what is being done by local organisation like the South African National Parks authorities and international organisations to conserve South African species under threat as well as their habitat.

        This wildlife conservation volunteering program is designed for teens between the ages of 15 and 17, to teach them what a career in conservation would really look like. You will l earn how to identify South African animals and how tracking them and recording data on their location and behaviour assists with their conservation. You volunteering project also includes a visit to the Kruger National Park and adventure activities in the scenic Drakensberg mountains. Teens will be lead by experts in their field who have been chosen for their mix of relevant experience and ability to mentor and inspire young people.

        Although all teen participants are greeted by GVI staff at their arrival destination, flight chaperoning services are also available upon request. Chaperones provide on-flight accompaniment, and in-airport assistance. To book this service please contact one of our enrollment managers.


        A basic tenet in evolutionary physiology is the energetic definition of fitness, which predicts that natural selection maximizes the residual energy available for growth and reproduction ( Sibly and Calow 1986 Brown et al. 1993 Bochdansky et al. 2005 ). Hence, in the absence of compensations in other capacities, high maintenance costs would be synonymous with low fitness. This assumption has become an untested dogma in evolutionary physiology (see Bochdansky et al. 2005 ), but recently Czarnoleski et al. (2008) approached it elegantly by studying H. aspersa snails using artificial selection. These authors found that the main correlated response to artificial selection for large body size was a reduction in energy metabolism in juvenile stages, suggesting that terrestrial snails are severely constrained by energy, especially during growth. Actually, the energy budget of land snails is seriously constrained by at least two expensive functions. First, the mode of locomotion of slugs and snails is one of the most costly in nature ( Denny 1980 ). Second, and specifically in the immature stages of H. aspersa, the cost of shell production has a considerable impact on the overall energy budget ( Czarnoleski et al. 2008 ). Also, Bochdansky et al. (2005) provided indirect evidence suggesting selection against high metabolic rates in juvenile fish maintained in laboratory conditions, by measuring otolith hatch check area as a proxy of metabolic rate. Here we provide direct evidence of natural selection toward reducing SMR in juvenile terrestrial snails, which would ultimately support the energetic definition of fitness. Actually, our results suggest that individuals with average-to-reduced SMRs are promoted by selection. We found a linear selection coefficient of −0.106, which means that a decrease of one standard deviation in metabolism is associated with an increase of 11% in relative fitness ( Conner 2001 ). Even assuming a conservative value for heritability for an ectotherm's energy metabolism (e.g., 0.35) ( Rantala and Roff 2006 ), and no indirect selection, this magnitude of selection would cause the trait to be reduced by one standard deviation in only 26 generations ( Conner 2001 ), and would support the expectation of adaptive shifts toward lower standard metabolism in H. aspersa.

        To test our second hypothesis: maintenance metabolism is a byproduct of other enhanced whole-organism physiological traits, we included additional traits related to whole-organism performance (MS and maximum force of dislodgement, MFD) in the selection analysis. However, we did not find any evidence of correlational selection on any combination of these traits with SMR. In addition, body size exhibited neither a significant gradient nor correlation with SMR, which discounts the influence of this variable on our results.

        Why would snails with high metabolic rates die? We believe that the reasons stem from the fact that H. aspersa is highly constrained by energy allocation patterns. As noted before, locomotion and shell production are both very expensive processes in land snails ( Czarnoleski et al. 2008 ). Therefore, individuals with high SMR could have less surplus energy to assign to other processes, compromising functions such as growth ( Steyermark 2002 ) or immunocompetence ( Freitak et al. 2003 Ksiazek et al. 2007 ). Also, a high SMR would represent a higher energetic budget that necessitates more time to be spent foraging, elevating predation risk. However, there should be a limit in the decrease of SMR because animals need a minimum level of energy for maintenance. This is supported by the fact that stabilizing selection on SMR was also detected.

        We are aware that we evaluated only one component of fitness (survival), which does not indicate anything with respect to fecundity. However, we selected pre-reproductive individuals to partially unify both survival and fecundity. In other words, individuals that died in this phase also have zero fecundity because they did not attain maturity. Therefore, the differential survival of pre-reproductive individuals may be an important source of variation in lifetime reproductive success. Thus, it is predictable that characters that influence the survival of juveniles in natural populations could be under strong selection ( Civantos and Forsman 2000 ).

        The fact that we found a combination of negative directional and stabilizing selection on SMR is another interesting point emerging from this study. The only two studies that have attempted to test if there is a link between metabolic rate and fitness (measured as survival) have shown a positive relationship between these two variables ( Hayes and O'Connor 1999 Jackson et al. 2001 ). This is in agreement with other studies showing that selection would favor high levels of performance (or positive directional selection), and in a few cases would favor disruptive or stabilizing selection ( Bennett and Huey 1990 Husak et al. 2006 Irschick et al. 2008 ). However, few if any studies have explored the direction of selection in traits that represent costs. In this case, negative directional selection would be expected, as we found in land snails.

        In terms of the magnitude of selection, our linear selection gradient for SMR was β=−0.106, which is lower than the overall median of β= 0.16 reported in Kingsolver et al. (2001) for morphological and life-history/phenological traits. On the other hand, quadratic selection gradients seem to be typically lower in magnitude (overall median γ= 0.10, Kingsolver et al. 2001 ), and our data are in agreement with this because our quadratic coefficient was only γ=−0.012.

        In summary, our principal result suggests that physiological traits in animals could be the target of current natural selection, in this case for maintenance costs, optimizing the energy budget in animals ( Alexander 1999 ). One question still to be answered however is, to what extent are these metabolic costs and organismal capacities, translated across the life table, ultimately reflected in the net reproductive rate (i.e., absolute fitness)?