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


False widow spider (Steatoda capensis)

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Arthropoda 

Class: Arachnida 

Order: Araneae

Family: Theridiidae

Genus: Steatoda 

Species: S. capensis 

Scientific nameSteatoda capensis

Common name: False katipo spider, Black cobweb spider, False widow spider.

They are a spider with a body length up to 7 mm.

Originating from South Africa it is now commonly found in New Zealand.  They can be f

ound under logs or any dark places. It is much more common than the katipo. They catch small crawling insects. 
Unlike the katipo the bite of the false katipo spider is not harmful, but it stings and the area bitten aches for an hour. It may also cause headaches or nausea. Small blisters may occur around the bite site.








Below is photo on a False Katipo that has been feeding on another False Katipo

Steatoda capensis when disturbed they will curl up and stay motionless.
This photo is of a one playing dead upside down.


Another spider in defence position.


Female on some firewood. One egg nest is completed and she is building another that is just visible under her abdomen.


S
teatoda capensis and her egg sacs

 

A young Steatopda capensis


A male Steatoda capensis with distintive markings.




Side view of a male Steatoda capensis


Sean Hann's 1994 paper (NZ J Zool: 21:2, 225-238) on Steatoda states S. capensis has a variety of possible markings, including a yellow band as in photo below.


The underside of a spider.