SAN Parks new spider1

SAN Parks Announce Possible New Spider Species

SAN Parks announced a new spider discovery on Table Mountain. Apparently, the spider, as yet unconfirmed as a new species, looks similar to a Widow. However, the spider’s not in the same genus as the button/widow spiders. Affectionately, they named it the ‘Red Widow.’ The spider was recently discovered by Dr. Andrew Baxter in Table Mountain National Park.

SAN Parks excited to introduce the “Red Widow”

As yet, the beautiful pillar-box red spider has not officially been declared a new species. Nevertheless, SAN Parks sounds excited about the find. Importantly, a newly discovered spider requires formal classification. Scientifically, in the event of a favourable classification, the new species warrants a new name.

As reported on the Facebook Page for The Spider Club of Southern Africa, Dr. Baxter said: “…if it [turns] out to be a new species,…our wish is to ‘donate’ the naming…to a species-naming auction to be facilitated by WWF South Africa…” Importantly, he suggests any proceeds from an auction get channelled into WWF protection of natural habitats.

Currently, the name assigned to the new beauty is ‘The Red Widow’ or  ‘Strawberry Button.’ Dr. Baxter found it in an area of moist fynbos on the west-facing slopes of Table Mountain. Painstakingly, they carried out a search at an altitude of 500 to 800m. There, they found only three of the exquisite creatures. Incredibly, Dr. Baxter says they found no trace of any webs. Cape Town Net described the spider as “about 1cm in body size.”

Over 3,000 species of spiders in South Africa

Already, South Africa classified over 3,000 species of spiders. However, a new spider sounds very exciting. Fortunately, spiders prefer gardens and bushveld to homes. Importantly, Dr. Baxter searched a large, uninhabited area to locate only three “Strawberry Buttons.” As a rule, South Africans remain safe from spiders. In fact, only a few venomous species exist. These include the Black and Brown Widow’s, The Sac, and the infamous Violin.

Naturally, The Spider Club members offered congratulations to SAN Parks. Member, Caren Neal said, “Congratulations Andrew Baxter!…And I always knew there was an amazing story behind this spider. Well done!…We will always remember this as the Strawberry Theridiid.”

The SAN Parks Facebook page published the announcement on the 10th of July 2020. Only 117 people loved it. Seemingly, spiders, even newly discovered ones, bring only a small circle of admirers.

Remember to check back with SANs Newsfeed often for more news about Africa.


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