The Ogre-faced or Net-casting Spider

Dienopsis subrufa.jpg

Introducing another inhabitant of the Daintree rainforest, the Ogre-faced or Net-casting Spider Deinopsis subrufa is cryptically discrete in shades of brown and grey, but once detected is recognizable by its enormous posterior median eyes and 40mm long body.

According to a website examining eyes, female net-casting spiders of Australia have the largest eyes of any spider. They also have an amazing ability to capture photons (particles of light), as many as 2000 times the number absorbed by human eyes.

Perhaps their most distinguishing feature is the peculiar deployment of silk to capture prey. Using comb-like structures on the tibia of their hind legs, they construct a rectangular net from a woolen-looking, bluish-tinted silk with a 400 to 600% stretch capacity. They hold the corners of this highly elasticised net with their four front legs and then wait for prey. When prey is detected, the spider propels itself forward with blistering speed, stretching the net over and around the prey. Once captured, the prey is then secured further with silk fed from the spider’s spinnerets with the hind legs.

Spiders concern participants on nocturnal tours in the Daintree more than any other creature. Some people are completely immobilised by their fear of these fascinating animals. This is not the case with renowned artist Louise Bourgeois, who has created a nine-metre high spider as an ode to her mother, which now resides on the banks of the River Thames overlooking central London.

5 Responses to The Ogre-faced or Net-casting Spider

  1. Davey Gam Esq. October 10, 2007 at 6:00 pm #

    I once read an idea that spiders are extra-terrestrials, arriving in the tail of some long past comet. Is this true? Perhaps refugees from some catastrophically warming planet? What does BoM have to say on this? Or Mick Keelty?

  2. Jennifer October 11, 2007 at 7:50 am #

    Thanks for more beautiful photographs … these posts remind me of why I studied zoology at University and so enjoyed taxonomy and morphology as subjects.

  3. Pinxi October 11, 2007 at 7:03 pm #

    Pity you missed the ecology class

  4. Jennifer October 12, 2007 at 7:43 am #

    Hi Pinxi,
    You are wrong again!
    I did more than one ecology class… and my PhD bridged insect behaviour and ecology.
    What about you?

  5. Jayne October 12, 2007 at 9:39 am #

    From someone who keeps a big respectful distance from eight legged beings …thanks for the pics :)

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