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Sliver Lobed Spider 1
Sliver Lobed Spider 2
Brown-lobed Spider
Long Lobed Spider
Pan-web Spider


Genus Cyrtophora - Tent Web Spiders


This page contains pictures and information about Tent Web Spiders of Genus Cyrtophora that we found in the Brisbane area, Queensland, Australia.
Tent web 
Tent spiders in Genus Cyrtophora are from small to medium size. They build tent-shaped web usually about a meter above grounds. They usually build their webs among the bushes and never across walking tracks or footpaths. We seldom accidentally walk into a tend web.
The tent web structure is very different from orb web. It is quite hard to distinguish radius or capture thread, The tent web is complicate but usually neat and tidy. It will take quite a long time for the spider to build a web. From our observation it takes more than 12 hours to build a tent web while it normally takes less than half an hours to build a typical orb web. So you normally do not see tent spider to rebuild the whole web, instead they usually repair the web. 
Some species build retreat at the centre of the tent web. It is usually covered with plant materials and other debris.  
Basic structure of a tent web
Tent web silks are non-sticky. They are water proof as well. The water drop will not attached to the web silks. This is different from orb web silks. Tent web does not be even affected by  heavy rainfall. We did an experiment using a garden water hose, with a column of water sprayed on the tent web. The tent web was not affected. Not a single drop of water attached with the web silk and not any damages can be found. We did the same test with a orb web build by Garden Orb-web Spider, Tits web was slightly damage and with a lot of water drips left on the web. We believed that the tent web silk has the special effect with water surface tension. There could be some applications if we find out this secret.  
Followings listed the Tent Web Spiders that we found. 

Tent Spider
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Cyrtophora moluccensis, leg to leg 50mm
Tent Spiders are common in Brisbane gardens and backyars. They have silver patterns on the body, some with yellow background colour, some are red and some are blue. They build tent shaped webs between plants and bushes. Their tent-shaped webs are easily recognized, up to 60cm in diameter. The spider rests upside down in the middle of the tent from day to night. Sometimes we can see a number of the Tent Spiders build their tent webs joined together and cover an area of a few meters. For more pictures and information please click here.
Russian Tent Spider
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Cyrtophora parnasia or C. hirta , leg to leg 12mm
The Russian Tent Spider is less often seen compared with Tent Spider above. It builds a peaked web like a Russian tent and the tent is about 25cm in size. The spider has a white abdomen, brown head and brown legs. In day time the spider hides inside middle of the tent, where egg-sac can sometimes be found. Egg-sac is covered with messy silk and plant materials. We recorded how Russian Tent Spider builds its tent-shaped web on another page. 
Pan-web Spider
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Cyrtophora exanthematica, leg to leg 15mm
Pan-web Spider is pale brown to dark grey in colour. We easily found this spider in Brisbane Botanic Garden. The spider builds web similar to Tent Spiders but with different shape. Instead of tent-shaped web, this Spider's webs are in pan shape. We call them Pan-web Spiders. For more information and pictures please click here.

1. A Guide to Australian Spiders - Densey Clyne, Melbourne, Nelson 1969, p68. 
2. Australian Spiders in colour - Ramon Mascord, Reed Books Pty Ltd, 1970, p80.

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Last updated: October 28, 2009.