Tropical spider found in Africa Museum’s basement


The small spider was found by researchers working in the Tervuren museum, which is currently closed for renovations

No danger to humans

Researchers working in the basement of the Royal Museum of Central Africa in Tervuren have discovered a nest of spiders of a sort never before seen in Belgium. The museum has been closed since December for major renovations and is due to remain closed until the second half of 2016.

Oecobius amboseli is a member of the family of Oecobiidae, or disk web spiders, which build small star-shaped webs behind which they hide to prey on insects such as ants. The species is native to Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, but has also recently been sighted in Denmark (photo) and the Netherlands.

Oecobiidae are also known as spiral spiders because of the ingenious way they have of trapping their prey. When an ant triggers the sensitive web, the spider rushes out at speed, preparing a thread of web silk to pin it down with. However, spiders do not have good eyesight, so the spider approaches in a spiral pattern which increases in size until the prey insect is trapped.

The spiders present no danger to humans. The news of the latest sighting will be published in the next issue of the journal of Arabel, the Belgian arachnologists’ union.


Photo: pavoučí