Do you want to learn about the spiders found in the Northern Territory?
Before we begin, I want you to know that the list below is just a fraction of the spiders in the Northern Territory. Because of the sheer number of these arachnids, it would be impossible to cover them all. For example, some estimates claim there are over 50,000 kinds of spiders on the planet (and the list is still growing)!
With that being said, I did my best to develop a list of spiders that are MOST often seen and easily identified.
Here are the 10 MOST common SPIDERS found in the Northern Territory!
#1. Australian Golden Orbweaver
- Trichonephila edulis
- Females are about 40 mm (1.5 in) long. Males are around 7 mm (0.2 in) long.
- The body has a black-and-white pattern on the back; the underside is yellow, while the abdomen is gray to brown.
- The web is about 1 m (39 in) in diameter and protected on the sides by a strong “barrier” web.
There’s no reason to fear this spider in the Northern Territory.
It isn’t aggressive, and its venom isn’t dangerous to humans. The Australian Golden Orbweaver’s bite may cause mild local pain, numbness, and swelling, but it prefers running away than striking. If you are bitten, try putting some cortisone cream on the bite.
Australian Golden Orbweavers are primarily active during the day when they check their web for prey. When insects get stuck in their web, this spider approaches and adapts its attack according to the prey’s size. For example, the spider will grab small prey and wrap it in silk without biting it. However, it will bite larger insects, wait for the venom to neutralize the prey, and then wrap it in silk.
#2. Redback Spider
- Latrodectus hasselti
- Females have spherical black bodies with a visible red line and an hourglass-shaped red/orange streak on the lower abdomen. They are 10 mm (0.4 in) long.
- Males are 3-4 mm (0.12–0.16 in) long.
The Redback Spider is also known as the Australian Black Widow.
It can be found all over the Northern Territory and is highly venomous. Be careful at night because this spider is nocturnal and spends its days in small crevices.
Unfortunately, female Redback Spiders are known to live near or inside human dwellings because they prefer warm, sheltered locations. Its venom can harm humans, especially if a bite is left untreated. The most common symptoms are nausea, vomiting, headache, and agitation. Get help right away; antivenom is readily available.
#3. Bronze Hopper
- Helpis minitabunda
- Males are 10 mm (0.39 in) long, larger than females, 8 mm (0.31 in) long.
- This species’ front legs are particularly long, and its first set of eyes is very large.
Look for Bronze Hoppers in moist areas with plenty of foliage. These spiders in the Northern Territory are active mainly during the day when they hunt for small insects like flies.
They get their name from the way they hunt and catch prey. First, they track the insect and slowly move toward it to avoid being sighted. Then, once they’re within jumping distance, they attach a silk dragline to their perch and jump on the insect!
Like most jumping spiders, Bronze Hoppers are harmless to humans and rarely bite. Instead, they prefer to avoid any perceived threats, including us!
#4. Christmas Jewel Spider
- Austracantha minax
Also known as the Jewel Spider and the Christmas Spider.
- Females are 12 mm (0.47 in). Males are 5 mm (0.20 in).
- They are easily identified by their six distinctive spines on the abdomen.
- Their color is predominantly black with white, yellow, and orange patterns.
Christmas Jewel Spiders in the Northern Territory are almost always found in groups.
This social species is rarely found alone, unlike most other spiders. Look for their large aggregations of interconnecting orb webs, which can be unsettling to see!
This spider is not harmful to humans, although the large, sticky webs can be inconvenient for hikers and backpackers. They aren’t aggressive, and biting is their last resort if disturbed. Even though they are harmless, their bite can cause temporary redness, itching, and swelling.
#5. White Banded House Jumper
- Maratus griseus
- Adults are 4-5 mm (0.15-0.2 in).
- Males are blackish, brown, white, or grey.
- Females are more camouflaged with mottled patterns of white and brown.
White-banded House Jumpers are also called peacock spiders in the Northern Territory. This name comes from the vivid color patterns males have on their upper abdomens.
Their bodies are connected with a flexible appendage that allows them to raise their abdomen or wave it side to side. They also have lateral flaps on the abdomen, which they raise and display during courtship to attract the female. During courtship, males engage in a complex dance.
Interestingly, a female White-banded House Jumper can signal a male that she is not interested in mating. There are two benefits to this signal. First, the ritual “dance” attracts predators, which is dangerous for both males and females. Secondly, the male doesn’t have to waste energy on an uninterested female. If the male persists in dancing, even though given the sign, the female might try to attack and eat him. After all, dating is dangerous in the world of spiders. 🙂
#6. Spotted Ground Swift Spider
- Nyssus coloripes
Also known as the Fleet-footed Spider, Painted Swift Spider, and Orange-legged swift spider.
- Females grow up to 7 mm (0.27 in) long. Males are slightly smaller.
- The legs can be up to 3 cm (1.18 in) long.
- Their coloring is black with white lines on the body and legs. The front legs are orange or reddish.
Unlike most spiders in the Northern Territory, this species doesn’t make webs.
Instead, the Spotted Ground Swift Spider lives and hunts primarily on the ground. Their preferred habitat is open forests and grasslands, but they sometimes wander into houses and gardens. Most of the time, they can be found in leaf debris, on rocks, fences, or tree trunks.
This species has adapted to hunting during the day, not by camouflage but by becoming even more noticeable! Spotted Ground Swift Spiders have vivid coloring and markings that repel predators. In addition, they move quickly and tremble their front legs as a warning. This trembling mimics the behavior of wasps.
#7. Tiger Spider
- Trichonephila plumipes
- Females are around 34 mm (1.33 in) long. Their legs are black, and they have black hair at the joints.
- Males grow up to 5 mm (0.19 in) long. Their legs are dark brown and hairless.
- The abdomen is olive-brown with yellow and white spots and stripes.
Tiger Spiders in the Northern Territory thrive in urban areas.
They’re highly adapted to concrete and other smooth surfaces and avoid vegetation. Additionally, urban areas often have larger, more plentiful insects due to human activity, so they have more to eat in these areas.
The Tiger Spider spins relatively durable webs where prey gets stuck. Interestingly, this species produces two different types of silk. Some silk, which appears yellow to humans, attracts prey to the web. However, it also attracts predators like wasps. Its other type of silk, which we see as silver or white, is invisible to predators, which cuts down on the attacks the spider has to face.
Although they’re generally solitary, females often settle close to other females and create aggregations. Their aggregation is often based on where the most abundant food resources are. So, if you see a large grouping of nests, you can rest assured these spiders are taking care of the insect population in that area!
#8. Giant Golden Orbweaver
- Nephila pilipes
- Females are 30–50 mm (1.1-1.9 in), but their legs can span up to 20 cm (7.9 in).
- Males are 5–6 mm (0.19-0.23 in).
- Their color pattern is yellow and black stripes on the body with black legs and yellow joints.
Giant Golden Orbweavers prefer habitats with no direct sunlight. This makes them perfectly adapted to living in dense rainforests and jungles. They build webs in bushes and trees near water sources.
Like many spiders, the females of this species are MUCH larger than the males. However, the Giant Golden Orbweaver takes it to a whole new level. Just look at the pair below and how the female dwarfs her partner!
The most surprising thing about this spider in the Northern Territory is that it’s a picky eater!
Incredibly, it only eats a few species of insects and will throw many others out of its web instead of eating them. To ensure they have enough of their preferred food source, they cache desirable food and store it in their webs for later.
Despite their intimidating appearance, Giant Golden Orbweavers aren’t dangerous to humans. Bites are rare, and symptoms are usually mild, involving muscle soreness or tightness. Symptoms go away on their own and don’t usually require medical treatment.
#9. Gray Wall Jumping Spider
- Menemerus bivittatus
- This species has a flattened torso and short, thick, greyish-white hair. Tufts of dark brown hair grow close to the eyes.
- The male has a brownish-white stripe on each side of the abdomen and a black dorsal stripe.
- The female has a larger abdomen and is typically lighter brown. In addition, her abdomen is rimmed with broad black stripes that come together at the end.
- Both sexes are about 9 mm (0.3 in) long, but males are usually slightly smaller.
The Gray Wall Jumping Spider is native to Asia but has since spread worldwide. It frequently appears on the exterior of buildings or tree trunks in gardens.
Instead of weaving a web around its prey, the Gray Wall Jumping spider stalks the prey before springing on it to attack. Their wide eyes and visual acuity allow them to focus easily on objects and distinguish between colors. And, using their exceptional jumping ability, they can seize their prey in the blink of an eye.
Interestingly, male Gray Wall Jumping Spiders can produce sounds as part of courtship behavior. The hairs on their femurs and the teeth on the chelicerae (small claws on the front of the mouth) make clicking noises that attract females. These sounds are too low and quiet for humans to hear, but it isn’t hard to imagine the creepy noise!
#10. Green Jumping Spider
- Mopsus Mormon
- Females are 12-18 mm (0.47 to 0.70 in) long. They often have a red, white, or brownish-red pattern on the thorax.
- Males are about 15 mm (0.59 in) long. They display long white “whiskers” and a crown of black hairs.
- Both sexes have two pairs of very large eyes at the front, with smaller pairs behind.
This species is the largest jumping spider in the Northern Territory.
Green Jumping Spiders prefer to live in humid forests near populated areas. Especially in the summer months, you’re likely to find them in your backyard or garden.
Like other jumping spiders, the Green Jumping Spider doesn’t use a web to gather food. Instead, they actively hunt insects, jumping on them and immobilizing them with their bite. They don’t use webs as shelter but rather build nests inside long, curved leaves.
The Green Jumping Spider’s bite is not toxic to humans but is notoriously painful. So if you see one of these colorful spiders, it’s best to keep your distance!
Check out these other guides about animals found in the Northern Territory!
Which of these spiders in the Northern Territory have you seen before?
Leave a comment below!