A piece of bird poo? Look again…

One of my favourite discoveries in the garden, this year has been a Bird Dropping Spider (Celaenia excavata) that has made her home on our White Sapote.

Looks like bird poo to me!
Looks like bird poo to me!

I discovered her by accident when I was cleaning a few leaves from bird poo while getting ready for the Mannum Gardening Club to visit. I’m assuming she’s a her because of the size of the body. I could be wrong but in the spider world, the ladies are usually bigger than the fellas.

I’d brushed a few leaves clean of debris, then one of the lumps of bird poo stuck to my hand. I shook it off and it hung by a thread from my fingers. Curious I thought, then she unfurled her legs, got up and moved like a crab, walking away, apparently in reverse along my arm. I had to look closely to see which was the front end. I knew exactly what it was and was pretty excited! This is the first one I’ve found in our garden.

Sitting patiently like a lump of poo.
Sitting patiently like a lump of poo.

Surprisingly, for something that looks like a piece of bird poo, this spider likes to lurk beneath the leaves of the White Sapote. It must be prey-central bcause she hasn’t left that tree.

When she unfurls those legs, she looks like a crab.

I’ll keep watching her antics as time goes by. I’m hoping to see some of the relatively large egg sacs that she will string on some fine web in between the leaves.

The best part is that the White Sapote tree is in a pot right next to where we open the car door. I check for her whenever I’m leaveing or arriving in the garden.

In the pic below you can she that she has caught a decent sized moth. She must have some appetite!

That’s a big lunch!

Bird Dropping Spiders are a variety of Orb Weaver that have given up stringing huge webs and taken in a more active, predatory lifestyle. She doesn’t move during the day, preferring to hunt at night. I’ve learned that when hunting, a Bird Dropping Spider hangs from a single silk thread and releases a pheromone that mimics the sex smells released by female moths. When a male moth approaches too closely, our spider captures it with its powerful front legs. Ouch!

Bird Dropping Spiders are harmless to humans but deadly to male moths!

4 Comments on “A piece of bird poo? Look again…

  1. You’ve got to give your friendly neighborhood spider a name. I loved reading your story and I learned something new. ♥️🕷️


    • I’ve been thinking that, myself, Robert. I was thinking ‘Calaenia’. It sounds like a girls name and is her genus name too. What do you think?


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