Aussie researcher Angela Sanders has discovered that huntsman spiders which are usually found in Australia like to live together. Sanders reportedly made the discovery when she was investigating timber habitat boxes set up for pygmy possums in Western Australia. There were dozens of huntsman spiders crowded in one corner and after a bit of investigating Sanders concluded that they're likely all from the same family. While speaking to a UK media publication, Sanders said that on lifting the lids, she found many huntsman spiders of all sizes whizzing around inside.
Sanders quoted that it was a species of huntsman that lives together, normally under the bark of a tree. A single adult female lays eggs and the successive generations of siblings help each other out and share prey items, she noted. This has several advantages for the spiders, including faster growth as they're also heavier and healthier, she concluded.
Sanders explained in her finding that in the restored area, tree bark was in short supply so the spiders found the wooden boxes suitable. These spiders are relatively harmless and usually do a good job of keeping insects at a minimum in the house. Generally, one or two huntsmans that sit in the corner of the roof or somewhere else and Sander's finding is a new revelation. There are 94 species of a huntsman in Western Australia and this type of behaviour has only been observed in this specific species. The same was reiterated by Curtin University spider expert Leanda Mason who told the media that this is unusual behaviour in the spider world. She said that most spiders do look after their spiderlings until they're old enough to go out by themselves. There's generally one reproductive female, as the other females approach adulthood, they leave or get eaten, she added.
Sanders and her team are happy with the discovery as the ecosystems they have been working to restore are now healthy enough to support stronger species diversity. Her team's efforts are part of the Monjebup Nature Reserve in Western Australia which aims to restore the natural ecology of the land that has suffered decades of the clearing. They have planted trees to provide habitats for the native animals, and there is now enough vegetation to provide food for animals such as the western pygmy possum (Cercartetus concinnus) and huntsman spiders (genus Delena). As the trees are not mature enough, Bush Heritage Australia staff have set up a whole bunch of habitat boxes for the little creatures.