South Africa is home to scores of wildlife, but did you know that a forest-dwelling widow species of button spider has been discovered in South Africa?
Named the Phinda button spider, this arachnid is rather unique. The Wild Tomorrow Fund (WTF) Entomology claims it is one of the largest button spiders in the world. Not only that, it is also the largest in Africa.
This is not something people with arachnophobia want to hear, but this makes the spider special. To date, the spiders have only been found in sand forests. Sand forests are a critically endangered habitat which is found mainly in SA and Southern Mozambique.
The first specimen of the Phinda button spider was found in Tembe Elephant Park. It was monitored for two years before it died. However, before it died, it left egg sacs behind.
Now this is where things get really interesting. Researchers claim the spider lays three, bright purple egg sacs. No other button spider in the world has eggs sacs that colour. The eggs are apparently only purple when produced, before turning into a greyish colour.
WTF Entomology further adds, before the discovery of the Phinda button spider, there were 31 recognised species of widow spiders around the world. Eight of which were recorded in Africa. This means Africa is now home to nine of these species of spider.
While the discovery of the Phinda button spider is remarkable, there is another factor which highlights the importance of conservation.
John Steward, WTF’s Executive Director, claims the discover of the Phinda button spider in SA’s most endangered ecosystem, the sand forest, underlines the importance of habitat protection.
He says through saving the habitat, mankind will be saving species that are potentially not yet discovered.
With a new species of widow spider now discovered, what other creatures will be found in the future? And will mankind take the steps to ensure other species do not face extinction?