Saturday, October 17, 2009

Black Velvet Spider - Maree Clarkson

If you want to live and thrive, let the spider run alive.

~American Quaker Saying

Black Velvet Spider - pencil sketch and watercolour in Moleskine Watercolour Sketch-book

This black Velvet Spider has lived in the bark of an old log in my garden for approximately 2 years now and she lets me coax her out for photographic sessions every now and then. These spiders are robust and deliberate in the way that they walk and she even allows me to gently stroke her abdomen and thorax, which is covered in thick, smooth, velvety hairs.

The velvet spiders (family Eresidae) are a small group (about 100 species in 10 genera) of almost totally Old World spiders (exception: a few species are known from Brazil).

Velvet spiders are found under rocks or bark resting in a sheet of dense white silk and are often confused with baboon spiders. They can live up to 5 years. Free living but rarely leave the safety of their webs.

Description: 12mm to 15mm in length. These robust spiders colouration may be from black, grey or a rich red. Body covered with hairs which give them a velvety appearance, hence their name. The abdomen is often lighter in colour than the rest of the spider. Abdomen may have 4 dimples on the top. The eyes are close together and the mouthparts are very robust looking for a spider that size. Legs are short and strong and they are widespread throughout Southern Africa.

Web: These spiders build their webs under rocks, under loose bark. Their retreats consist of flat candy floss like dry sheets of silk. The silk is tough and has interwoven prey remains. Their nest-like webs are attached to the ground using silken anchor lines. Silken lines radiate from the entrance to their shelters. These lines are used to detect prey.

Venom: Even though these spiders can be large in size they very rarely bite. Not much is known about the affects of their venom. It is highly unlikely that this spider’s venom is of importance to humans.

Notes: Females seldom leave their webs in order to hunt. Instead, they prefer to wait for prey to wander into their webs and radiating silken lines. They prey upon tough skinned insects and other large prey items.


  1. Oooo, spider whisperer........ I'm still saying ewwwww, though. But, will try to be brave.

  2. I have just found this wonderful blog. I love spiders and this post is awesome. What a beautiful girl she is, your Velvet Spider. There are several spiders around and in the house I keep up with too. They've crawled on me before and I move them. Never though to pet them. I had to print this to go on the wall. Thank you.

  3. Aaaw, don't be such a baby Pam! Anything SO soft has to be part of the cuddlies! You should try letting a Baboon Spider (don't know if you have them there?) walk on your hand - the softest, gentlest movements...

  4. Hi Ja-Co and thanks for stopping by - glad you like the blog and my post. Nice to know there are some other spider lovers out there! Hope you put a nice frame around her painting. Just love the pic of the new Crooked Creek - you're blessed to have such a lovely stream flowing through your property. Regards


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