News release • August 24, 2015 • By Nick Volpe
Young wildlife photographer Nick Volpe has photographed a very rare red-coloured mouse spider, in north-western Sydney.
He says: «In the middle of suburbia alongside a busy road in Girraween, Sydney, lies a small 10-by-10m squared patch of grass in a front yard that has an infestation of the venomous eastern mouse spider (Missulena bradleyi).
The small, chunky, glossy black spiders with large fangs spend the majority of their lives underground in burrows, and only emerge to wander during the Autumn rains in search of a mate.
The property owner has recorded every specimen he has captured between late April to June every year since 2011 to 2015. In that time he has collected an astounding 960 spiders, of which he gave to private collectors and pet shops.
These infestations are so severe that up to 87 spiders have been collected in a single night. However, some very interesting and unique specimens were found among the spider hoards. In the five years of observations, the property owner has found six bright red specimens, very different to the average black spiders.
It’s likely these extremely rare spiders are expressing a genetic mutation that results in their body colouring being a stunning bright red.
A close cousin of the mouse spider, funnel-web spiders can also express variations of the red pigment.
- Rare dual-coloured funnel-web spider
- Australia’s 10 most dangerous spiders
- What to do if you find a spider: a complete guide
- provided by Australian Geographic