I’m Weaving Of A White Christmas!

In Australia, it’s time to start surfing the Yuletide waves when your garden starts attracting gaily-coloured Elves. Eight-legged Elves. With fangs.

The Christmas Spider (Austracantha minax) is commonly found in gardens all around Australia. A. minax gets its common name from the time of year it emerges in large numbers and because the spider (particularly the female) looks like a tiny little Christmas tree decoration, albeit one that will fight back if your pets attempt to bat it around like they do that plasticine angel decoration that’s down to its last three flight feathers.

The female Christmas spider is a diminutive little orb-shaped creature with bright yellow, black, gold and orange spots and stripes adorning her spiny, black, 8 millimetre body. The 3 millimetre males say ‘bah, Humbug!” to such seasonal finery, preferring to don less a less flashy coat of simple black and white. They tend to spin their tiny, wheel-shaped webs near (often between) large and colourful flowers, which attract their preferred prey of flies and small bees. Interestingly, whilst most spiders go out of their way to conceal their webs, Christmas Spiders make the guide-lines at the edge of their snares a distinct, easily-seen white colour, probably to avoid having large, cumbersome mammals – such as you and your family, disorientated after too many Egg-Nogs, Brandy Snaps and Sarah Brightman Christmas CDs – blundering into them.

Christmas Spiders are sweet, colourful, tiny little fellas that are completely harmless to people. So, if you squish one, not only are you depriving your garden of natural pest control, you’re also asking Santa to leave a lump of coal in your stocking as well as an angry Funnel-Web the size of Shelob.