I love scorpions, and you may have already worked out that I have a soft spot for spiders, so these guys are definitely favorites.
Scorpion tailed spiders (genus Arachnura) are one of those great taxa where the name says it all. They come from one of the most common families of spider, the Araneidae which includes a few of the spiders I have mentioned in previous posts; the St Andrews cross spiders, and the garden and golden orb weavers.
The “tail” is a very elongated abdomen, which looks quite like a scorpion when arched up (but without the sting!). They use their “tail” as a disguise by sitting in the center of the web, tail up and pretending to be a leaf. As always, there are some great photos of them at www.arachne.org.au
I once when collected a scorpion tailed spider from a web, I was so sure that it was a leaf until it moved at the last second. I have found quite a few of these in urban Sydney, so keep an eye out if you’re in Eastern Australia!
Scorpion tailed spiders often place debris around themselves to complete the leaf illusion. Most orb weaving spiders will clear our any non edible objects that fall into the web, but a few collect debris and use it to hide in. Another great example of this is the leaf curling spiders that you see every where in Sydney at the moment. These are also in the family Araneidae and there are two main species, one from the Genus Araneus (left) and the other from Phonognatha (right).
They usually collect a leaf and wrap it around themselves as protection. I took this photo to show the effect of urbanisation on spiders, the leaf curing spider has curled itself up in some styrofoam packaging!