On the banksia Walk I recently noticed a group of weird egg sacs on a twig with a line of silk that led to a strange lump. Unfortunately the bit with the lump broke off during examination. As the lump remains solid despite the process I suspected that it was a zombie spider that had been killed by a fungus and took it home.
It was in fact, a very live Bird –dropping Spider Caelenia excavata that is common in orchards and is also known as the Orchard Spider.
This spider is a master of disguise that hides all day and hunts at night without a web.
At night it suspends itself on a web strand with its claws outstretched and emits a female moth pheromone. Male moths drawn to the scent are grabbed and consumed. I suspect that the silky white balls around the hiding spider that I initially mistook for a fungus are the wrapped remains of spider dinners.
This specimen appears to be atypical (I had hopes of a new species Caelenia sawkinsii), but the egg sacs are typical of the Bird-dropping Spider, and are often the most obvious way of finding them. As each egg sac contains up to 200 eggs there were over 1000 potential spiderlings present.
Check out the bent legs that enable the spider to keep them tightly against its body and the beak-like projection on the front of its carapace (top of front half) containing the slightly raised central four eyes (typical of the Orb weaver family in which it belongs) that enables it to see out when hunched up. They are no danger to humans.