New crab spider species discovered in Wingham

Book signings: Steve Woodman will be outside the Wingham Newsagency over the next three Saturday mornings signing copies of his book. Photo: supplied
Book signings: Steve Woodman will be outside the Wingham Newsagency over the next three Saturday mornings signing copies of his book. Photo: supplied

Since 2016 amateur photographer Steve Woodman has been lucky enough to find several new species of crab spider in Wingham.

The first one he found, a possible new genus of crab spiders, was living in a hedge in his garden.

Not being able to identify this specimen with the curious design on its tiny abdomen (the spider was less than five millimetres from front to back), he sent the photo to Robert Whyte, a researcher with the Queensland Museum who informed him that it may indeed be a new species.  

Robert first thought the spider belonged to a family of spiders found in tropical Queensland. Now it is thought to be possibly a new genus of crab spider altogether.

Since then Steve has been on a mission to catalogue the enormous variety of crab spiders in the Wingham area, and has photographed over 600 individuals so far. Several thousand photographs can be found on his facebook page www.facebook.com/MygardenThomisidae/

Steve nicknamed one of the new spiders the ‘leopard’, and this has joined other undescribed species he has found in Wingham going by the tasty nick names of ‘cherry pastry’, ‘skinny cherry pastry’, and ‘pancake’.

Steve hopes there may be more new crab spiders to be found in Wingham, and is having a load of fun looking for them.  

“All you need is patience, a good eye, and a camera to record them,” he says.

Steve has written a book titled There’s a Crab Spider in My Backyard to help amateurs like himself find and photograph the tiny creatures.

There’s a Crab Spider in my Backyard includes more than 350 photographs and will be released in November 2017. It will be available at the Wingham Newsagency, and Steve will be signing books outside the newsagents for the next three Saturdays.