T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Cave spider (Nelson) Spelungula cavernicola

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Arachnida
Order: Araneae
Suborder: Araneomorphae
Family: Gradungulidae
Genus: Spelungula
Species: S. cavernicola
Binomial name: Spelungula cavernicola
Common name: Nelson cave spider.

Spelungula cavernicola is an extremely rare spider endemic to New Zealand. It is New Zealand’s largest spider with a 15 cm leg-span. It has a body length of 2.4 centimetres. It is a mottled light brown colour. The first two pairs of legs each bear a very long claw. It lives in limestone caves of the Nelson region.
It is a hunting spider are known to feed on cave weta (Gymnoplectron sp.). They locate their prey then pounce on it. The spider remains secured to the wall via a silk line. By lifting its prey of the ground, it is unable to get away. The female spider produces large, almost spherical, egg sac that it suspends from cave ceilings on a silk thread.

As of 1991 this extremely rare Nelson cave spider is New Zealand's only spider protected under the Wildlife Act. It is classed as Range Restricted and stable in the New Zealand Threat Classification System.