Sheet-web Spiders

C. foliata can't see well under red-light, so once we located one, we'd switch over to red light to sneak up and grab them.Yogurt pots are perfect for spider-collection.Occasionally additional tools are required to coax the spiders from their webs.Aenetus virescens, Female Puriri Moth Eriophora pustulosa, Garden Orbweb SpiderUnknown spider (possibly Uliodon spp.)C. foliata with dinnerC. foliata with Cicada dinnerC. foliata on webC. foliata on web

In January 2015 I joined PhD candidate Leilani Walker on a night hike to collect Sheet-web spiders for her research. There’s a blog post here documenting the night and the animals we encountered (mostly of the eight-legged kind!). We had a heap of fun finding male Cambridgea foliata for her research, locating (and inadvertently startling) sleepy Kereru, and she was fantastic at answering my endless questions.

Sheet-web spiders spin a dense horizontal web, with strands that extend vertically to knock prey out of the air and into the sheet. The spider sits on the underside of the sheet at night, and grabs the prey through it. Cambridgea foliata is the largest species in New Zealand, and their webs can be large – up to a meter across (I’m sure we saw larger ones). Night-time is when to look for them, as they hide in retreat-holes during the day.

Leilani has a blog and twitter where you can find out more about her research, and occasionally posts wonderful doodles!