Invertebrate of the Day: Spotted Bark Spider

spotted bark spider in madagascar

Spotted bark spiders are pretty, not poisonous, and huge. I spotted this one from our vehicle as we drove into our lodge near Andasibe-Mantadia National Park. Its body is about an inch long and its web spans ten or so feet between two shrubs on the edge of the road, so it would have been hard to miss.

If you’ve read about Darwin’s bark spider, these are from the same genus, Caerostris. Heck, maybe they’re even the same species. That’s the problem with English names—they aren’t specific like the Latin ones. And despite looking it up on the internet, I haven’t been able to find a Latin equivalent for “spotted bark spider.” I’m told by my guide that spotted bark spiders build webs that span rivers, and the internet tells me that Darwin’s bark spiders do the same thing. So I have my suspicions …

I’m not the only one who has a lot left to learn about Madagascar’s bark spiders and telling them apart. Scientists identified Darwin’s bark spider as a distinct species only in 2010, and identified four more new-to-science Madagascar bark spider species in 2015.

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