Poltys illepidus C.L. Koch, 1843

Smith, H. M., 2006, A Revision of the Genus Poltys in Australasia (Araneae: Araneidae), Records of the Australian Museum 58, pp. 43-96 : 55-59

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Poltys illepidus C.L. Koch


Poltys illepidus C.L. Koch

Figs 1–3, 13, 16–17, 25–26, 33–41, 46–51, 56–63, 67–69, 71.

Poltys illepidus C.L. Koch, 1843: 97 , fig. 821. Female(?) holotype, “East India, Singapore, Bintang”; not located. Simon, 1885: 448, 1895: 892. Chrysanthus, 1961: 211. Davies, 1988: 316, female only. The specimens discussed or figured by Pocock (1900: 236), Chikuni (1989), Barrion & Litsinger (1995: 579), and Ogasawara (2000) require confirmation, see below.

Poltys coronatus Keyserling, 1886: 128 , fig. 10. Female holotype from Cape York Queensland, Australia; “in Bradley’s collection”, not located. New synonym.

Poltys keyserlingi Keyserling, 1886: 129 , pl. 10, fig. 3. Juvenile holotype from Gayndah , Queensland, Australia; in ZMH, examined. New synonym.

Poltys multituberculatus Rainbow, 1898: 82 , pl. 18, fig. 2. Female holotype from Cooktown, Australia; in AM, KS8696, examined. Rainbow, 1916: 118. New synonym.

Poltys penicillatus Rainbow, 1920: 249 , pl. 29, fig. 57. Female holotype from Lord Howe Island, Australia, Dec 1915 – Jan.1916, A.M. Lea; in SAMA , N1981313, examined. New synonym.

Remarks. Poltys keyserlingi and P. coronatus Keyserling were tentatively synonymized with P. illepidus by Simon (1899). Only Bonnet (1958), however, accepted these synonymies so Platnick (2005) has been followed and these are considered new synonymies here. Despite the type of P. keyserlingi being a juvenile, only one species in the P. illepidus - group has been recorded from SE Queensland, where this specimen was collected, so it seems a reasonable assumption. Poltys coronatus also cannot be identified with absolute certainty as Keyserling only figured the anterior view of the epigyne; but it is more likely to be this species than P. stygius .

The type of P. moluccum , which was also synonymized with P. illepidus by Simon (1885), has not been located. However both the figures and the described habit suggest it is not P. illepidus as described here. (See also under P. frenchi ).

Females previously identified as P. illepidus have been collected from several areas that border the geographical range accepted here. These require males for verification as the epigynes are consistently outside the range of variation seen in areas where males have been checked. For instance, while the specimen redescribed by Barrion & Litsinger (1995) from the Philippines has not been examined, two other specimens from this area (ZMUC, the epigynes of which could be interpreted as the illustration given) are more likely a separate species. Several specimens from India and Sri Lanka (as discussed by Pocock, 1900) have also been examined and again are most likely different. The Japanese species illustrated by Ogasawara (2000) and identified as P. illepidus also does not appear to fit within the species as recognized here, and is probably the same species that is photographically illustrated by Chikuni (1989). Chikuni’s male is certainly from the P. illepidus -group but the palpal organs are so similar between species it is not possible to ascertain the species without comparing specimens.

Selected material examined. AUSTRALIA: NEW SOUTH WALES: ♀ S42578 View Materials , Lismore, 28°49'S 153°16'E, 26 Jun. 1961 GoogleMaps . NORFOLK ISLAND: ♀ KS33926 , Norfolk Island, 29°05'S 168°00'E, 17 Feb. 1938 GoogleMaps ; KS34803 , Point Howe, 29°05'S 168°00'E, 3 Aug. 1992 GoogleMaps . NORTHERN TERRITORY: Ƌ KS55734 , Darwin, East Point , 12°25'S 130°49'E, 21 May 1999 GoogleMaps ; KS55732 , Litchfield NP, Florence Falls , 13°09'S 130°46'E, Aug. 1998 GoogleMaps ; S42523 View Materials , West Alligator Mouth , 12°11'S 132°16'E, 22 Jul. 1979 GoogleMaps ; ♀♀ WA98/1985– 86, Cahills Crossing, 12°25'S 132°58'E, 29 May 1992. QUEENSLAND: ♀ KS33923 , Cairns District ; KS33927 , Cooktown, 15°28'S 145°15'E; Ƌ KS58019 , near Dalrymple NP, 19°49'29"S 146°03'48"E, 12 May 2000 GoogleMaps ; KS33929 , Ƌ KS73156 , Edmonton, 17°01'S 145°44'E, 14 May 1972 and 20 Sep. 1976 GoogleMaps ; KS90970 , 4.3 km W of junct. Hopevale & Lakefield NP rds, 15°18'26"S 145°00'48"E, 17 May 2000 GoogleMaps ; Ƌ KS58028 , 9 km S of Ilbilbie , 21°47'05"S 149°22'12"E, 26 May 2000 GoogleMaps ; Ƌ KS70353–54 , 7.8 km E of Lakeland , 15°49'59"S 144°53'41"E, 15 May 2000 GoogleMaps ; Ƌ KS58025 , N of Marlborough , 22°41'08"S 149°37'20"E, 26 May 2000 GoogleMaps ; Ƌ KS58020 nr Mt Elliot NP, 19°23'50"S 147°00'54"E, 25 May 2000 GoogleMaps ; KS90971 , Rockhampton, Kershaw Gardens, 23°21'36"S 150°31'02"E, 27 May 2000 GoogleMaps ; Ƌ KS58034–35 , Rockhampton, Naughton St, 23°22'08"S 150°29'11"E, 26 May 2000 GoogleMaps ; ♀ Ƌ KS75537–38 , Trinity Park, track to Earl Hill via Reed Rd, 16°47'59"S 145°42'33"E, 6 Jan. 2002 GoogleMaps ; KS86258 , Ƌ KS86253 , Trinity Park, 16°48'S 145°42'E, 17–18 Sep. 2003 GoogleMaps ; ♀ ( MMUS), Caloundra, 26°48'S 153°08'E, 15 Jun. 1941 GoogleMaps ; Beaudesert, 27°59'S 152°59'E, 29 Jun. 1980; S20786 View Materials , Chelmer, Brisbane, 27°30'S 152°58'E, 2 Dec. 1992 GoogleMaps ; S42575 View Materials , Bundaberg, 24°52'S 152°21'E, 11 May 1962 GoogleMaps ; S25387 View Materials , Deepwater NP, 24°18'S 151°56'E, 26 Sep. 1992 GoogleMaps ; S42530 View Materials , Flinders Is, 14°10'S 144°15'E, 18 Aug. 1979 GoogleMaps ; S42572 View Materials , Hammond Is, Torres Strait, 10°32'S 142°12'E, 8 Jul. 1974 GoogleMaps ; S42623 View Materials , Jardine River , Cape York, 11°18'S 142°37'E, 28 Aug. 1985 GoogleMaps ; S42549 View Materials , Magnetic Island , 19°08'S 146°50'E, Jun. 1965 GoogleMaps ; S42568 View Materials , Mt Cook , NEQ, 15°30'S 145°16'E, 12 Nov. 1975 GoogleMaps ; S42563 View Materials , Port Stewart , 14°04'S 143°01'E, 23 May 1973 GoogleMaps ; S42602 View Materials , Stradbroke Is, 27°36'S 153°27'E GoogleMaps ; S42538 View Materials , Taringa, 27°29'S 152°59'E, 19 Oct. 1923 GoogleMaps ; S42573 View Materials , Terry Beach, Prince of Wales Island, 10°41'S 142°04'E, 2 Jul. 1976 GoogleMaps ; S42531 View Materials , Toowoomba, 27°33'S 151°57'E, 26 Mar. 1980 GoogleMaps . WESTERN AUSTRALIA: ♀ KS55746 , King Leopold Range, Silent Grove camp site, 17°04'S 125°14'E, 5 Jun. 1999 GoogleMaps ; ♀ NN12182, Cape Wellington, 15°09'S 124°50'E, 17 Jul. 1999; ♀ NN12181, Careening Bay , 15°06'S 125°00'E, 22 Jul.1999 GoogleMaps ; ♀ NN12184, Roebuck Bay , Broome, 17°58'34"S 122°13'50"E, 10 Jul. 1998 GoogleMaps ; ♀ WA99/244, Barrow Island , Mattress Point, 20°44'43"S 116°28'27"E, 29 Oct. 1998 GoogleMaps ; ♀ WA99/243, Derby, 17°18'S 123°37'E, 17 Sep. 1998; ♀ WA98/1969, Theda Pass campsite, 14°47'S 126°38'E, 13 Jun. 1992. INDONESIA: WEST PAPUA: ♀ ( HNHM), Enarotali, 13 Jul. 1962 ; ♀♀ 8180 ( RMNH), Merauke, 1956–57 (illustrated by Chrysanthus, 1961) . JAVA: ♀ 6087 ( MNHNP), “Savu” ;? ♀ 192/1025 ( NHRM), Sindanglaya ; ♀♀ 20.305 ( NHMW) Krakatau: Lang Island ; ♀♀ (3) ( RMNH), Surabaya,1933

38. LOMBOK: Ƌ ♀ ( RMNH ex coll. CLD), Kute, 12–14 Jan. 1990 & 8–19 Feb. 1990. SUMATRA : ♀ 20.304 ( NHMW), Medan. MALAYSIA: PINANG : Ƌ 8313 ( JAM), Penang, 13–16 Aug. 1979. PAPUA NEW GUINEA: CENTRAL : ♀ 20.303 ( NHMW), Yule Island . EAST SEPIK : KS8015 , Kairiru Island , near lake, 3°20'S 143°33'E, 23 May 1976. MOROBE GoogleMaps : ♀♀ N1998780–81, Lae , 6°45'S 147°00'E, Jul. & Aug. 1954. SOLOMON ISLANDS: CENTRAL GoogleMaps ♀ ( BMNH), Tulagi. THAILAND : ♀ 1968.2.20.3 ( BMNH), Thailand, 17 Apr. 1961 ; ♀ 7615 ( MNHNP) “ Bankok ” .

Reared specimens deposited in Australian museums: ex ♀ KS86257 , QLD, Trinity Park, N side of Moores Gully, “The Haul” Rd, 16°48'S 145°42'E, 17 Sep 2003, M&S: Ƌ to SAMA NN 21923; Ƌ to GoogleMaps

WAM T62876 View Materials ; ex ♀ KS86259 , QLD, Trinity Park, S side of Moores Gully 16°48'S 145°42'E, 18 Sep 2003, M&S: Ƌ to GoogleMaps QM S66571 View Materials ; Ƌ ♀ to NTM; ex ♀ KS58036 , QLD, Rockhampton, Kershaw Gardens, 23°21'S 150°31'E, 27 May 2000, M&S: Ƌ to GoogleMaps QM S66572 View Materials .

Diagnosis. Females. From other species groups by fanshaped epigyne ( Fig. 46), broad, low, darkly coloured carapace ( Figs 35–36), no or little broadening of front femora ( Fig. 33) and relatively broad, rounded abdomen ( Figs 34, 38–41). From P. stygius : epigynal foveae relatively narrow and often boomerang-shaped ( Figs 49–51); posterior lobes of spermathecae often visible level with or distal to the margin of the epigynal furrow in posterior view ( Figs 47, 49–50). Males. From other species groups except some P. laciniosus -group specimens by short, poorly defined eye tubercle ( Figs 56, 58), from P. laciniosus -group by presence of TA in palpal organ ( Fig. 62). From P. stygius : difficult without direct comparison, but P. illepidus have a shorter, more sharply curved embolus and a shorter conductor ( Figs 61–63, 68).

Description. Female. Carapace length range 4.17–8.75. As commented above, the holotype has not been located. The figured female is used as an exemplar. Drawn specimens Figures: 26, KS33929; 33–36, KS86258 (male from Fig. 56); 37, AM juvenile ex Cooktown; 38–39, KS33929; 40– 41, KS33923; 46–47, S20786 View Materials ; 48, KS75537; 49, KS90970 (DNA spec.); 50, KS55732 (DNA spec.); 51, N1981313 (type of P. penicillatus ).

Female KS86258. Prosoma. Carapace: length 7.33, width 5.83, height 1.92; dome broad and low ( Fig. 36); eye tubercle distinct but broad basally both in dorsal and lateral views ( Figs 33, 35). Chelicerae: paturon with 4 promarginal teeth (as P. stygius , Fig. 44). Labium: length 0.86, width 1.27. Sternum: length 2.86, width 2.98; deeply indented anteriorly for labium; sternal extensions at bases of legs II–IV. Eyes. ( Figs 33, 36), AME>PME=PLE≥ ALE ; ALE c. 1× its own diameter from AME, ventral margin of ALE is level with mid point of AME. Legs. ( Figs 33). P+TL I: 11.50, II: 10.50, III: 6.83, IV: 8.42; front femora only slightly broadened and usually at greatest diameter at, or basal to, mid-point of length; patellal and tibial macrosetae not flattened (but may be in juveniles, e.g., Fig. 37, and adult females from SE Asia). Abdomen. ( Figs 33– 34). Length 13.33, width 10.42; equally broad at humeral and posterior tubercles; “microsigillae” well developed. Epigyne. A broad fan-shaped plate, widest point at about half length ( Fig. 46); foveae form narrow–medium width grooves, partly covered basally, separated by a strong median ridge ( Fig. 47); rim well formed on distal margin of anterior plate, distinct to the broadest point, expanding posteriorly into bulges near distal tip ( Figs 46–48); posterior lobe of spermathecae visible through posterior cuticle level with the external edge of the epigynal groove ( Fig. 47); no copulatory ducts visible ( Fig. 26); spermathecae separated by half a spermatheca width or less. Colour in alcohol. Carapace mostly rich dark brown with red pro-foveal suture; dorsal caput, eye tubercle and patches anterior to PLE orange; caput hairs golden. Chelicerae with basal yellow patch, rest brown, darkening distally. Labium and maxillae orange-brown. Sternum yellow anteriorly, otherwise brown. Pedipalps yellow with black markings. Femora I and IV mostly black–brown with orange patches and a strong blue shine on glabrous areas; femur II slightly lighter; III mostly yellow with dark distal band; all distal legs mottled orange-brown–black. Abdomen ventrally black around pedicel, ringed by white then dorsal colouration; dorsally a rich tapestry of browns, yellow–orange and black; patterns accentuated by tufts of coloured setae.

Male. Carapace length range 1.00–1.27. Drawn specimens Figures: 25, KS58033; 56–63, KS86253.

Male KS86253. Prosoma. Carapace: length 1.14, width 0.84, height 0.39; eye tubercle poorly defined, broad and almost without any dip between caput and eye tubercle in lateral view ( Figs 56, 58–59). Labium: length 0.10, width 0.19. Sternum: length 0.53, width 0.49. Eyes. ( Figs 56, 59). AME≥PME>PLE≥ ALE ; ALE c. 1 ⁄ 3 × its own diameter from AME; ventral margin of ALE is at mid point of AME. Legs. ( Fig. 56). P+TL I: 1.35, II: 1.25, III: 0.69, IV: 0.94; distal patellal and tibial macrosetae of legs I and II flattened into leaf-like blades ( Fig. 60). Abdomen. ( Figs 56–57) Length 1.57, width 1.12; a rather skewed ellipsoid, widest point near apex. Palpal organ. Radix–stipes joint retrolateral, almost all of stipes hidden by cymbium; embolus and TA arise dorsally (normally obscured by cymbium, Fig. 63); embolus a stout, sharply curved rod, tapering to a point after the curve ( Fig. 61, 68); TA narrow at base, flanking the embolus, broadens to a lamina and free of embolus apically ( Fig. 67); PM a pointed sclerotized bump ( Fig. 61–62, 68). Colour in alcohol. Carapace olivegrey with black median markings; dorsal eye tubercle yellow-orange. Chelicerae as carapace with fuscous markings. Labium, maxillae and sternum olive-grey. All femora pale basally to dark distally; distal legs mottled fuscous turning into distinct dark banding on distal metatarsi and tarsi; underside of patella–metatarsus III and IV with large black spots that merge together. Abdomen ventrally dark with white patches posterior to book lung covers; dorsally with dark pattern on a white ground. Palpal cymbium mottled black apically and down dorsal centreline, rest olive-grey; apicodorsal points of tibia, patella and, to a lesser extent, femur mottled black, rest lighter mottling to creamy-white on femur.

Variation. As well as the variation in female abdominal shape shown ( Figs 33–34, 38–41, also with taller humeral tubercles and as shown for P. stygius , Figs 42–43, 45), there is considerable variation in features such as relative leg lengths, length of eye tubercle, epigyne shape ( Figs 47, 49– 51) and development of macrosetae. One feature, which seems to be geographically linked, is the presence of dark, flattened macrosetae on some patellae and front tibiae. In the northwest (Northern Territory and Western Australia), all juvenile and male specimens show this feature ( Figs 37, 60). In northeast Queensland specimens, however, these flattened macrosetae are sometimes small or absent on one or more legs, and they become progressively less frequent moving southwards. No individuals with strongly developed flattened macrosetae were found anywhere south of Edmonton (17°S). In Australia, the flattened macrosetae do not persist in adult females, but elsewhere some females have been recorded with genitalia consistent with P. illepidus but bearing varying numbers of large flattened macrosetae. Presence of similar macrosetae also appears to be variable in P. stygius .

The northern and more southerly eastern Australian populations show a consistent genetic differentiation in the examined fragment of the COI gene (see Fig. 248 and section “Separation of the Australian Poltys species using COI”). No consistent morphological differences could be found, but with only three females tested from each population and the inherent variability within Poltys species , there may not be enough data available to find patterns in the few known specimens. Except for spination, no differences were found in males from the two areas. This differentiation may represent two separate species but, at present, both the morphology and the lack of differentiation in the ITS2 gene suggest that this is not the case. If these populations are ever separated at the specific level, the types of both P. keyserlingi and P. penicillatus will require re-examination.

Only two males of P. illepidus from outside of Australia have been examined (from Penang in Malaysia and Lombok, Indonesia) but these both match the northern Australian males well .

Remarks. Intensive searching in 2000–2001 only recorded one species of Poltys on Lord Howe Island ( P. grayi n.sp.). If P. illepidus currently occurs there, it is rare. It is also possible that the specimen Rainbow described (as P. penicillatus ) was mislabelled. Lea, the collector, also visited Norfolk Island on the same collecting trip and there the species appears to be established.

Biology. Adult females spin a fine orb web 30–40 cm in diameter between trees or low herbage at night, in a space up to 4 m wide. A strong golden-coloured bridge thread is left in place during the day but the main web is usually taken down towards dawn (but see comments in Robinson et al., 1974). The webs may be round, taller than wide or wider than tall, depending on the available supports. The webs of juvenile spiders are usually between dead twigs as in most other Australian Poltys species. Egg sacs are of fluffy yellow silk ( Fig. 13). On two occasions they have been found laid in rolled up leaves at one end of the spanning web line, but several searches for egg sacs associated with females thought likely to have already laid eggs were unsuccessful, suggesting they may travel some distance to find a suitable place, or are good at hiding them. Smaller juvenile spiders and males usually mimic part of a dead twig during the day but large juveniles and females are more often on living or dead tree trunks or even down in low herbage. Individuals with spiky abdomens were found on the trunk of a tree and on a broken branch ( Figs 1–2). Another was taken in a sweep net hiding in low herbage. Two rounded specimens were found like knobs or galls on a branch, another was in a dead flower head on a tree. One specimen from Lae, New Guinea, was reportedly found on potato and Robinson et al., 1974 report Poltys specimens tentatively identified as P. illepidus hiding in curled leaves by day. Subadult females of the P. illepidus -group have been found in (unidentified) wasp-larders from nests in Bogor, Indonesia (RMNH) and were also recorded in several Sceliphron laetum F. Smith ( Sphecidae ) nest chambers from Madang, Papua New Guinea (Elgar & Jebb, 1999; vouchers in WAM).

Distribution. Northern Australia, New Guinea and SE Asia at least as far north as Thailand ( Fig. 71). Also recorded from Norfolk and Lord Howe Islands to the east of Australia and probably also present on New Caledonia (juvenile of this species group seen in HNHM material). Records outside of this area such as Sri Lanka, India, the Philippines and Japan require examination of males for verification.


Macleay Museum, University of Sydney


Hungarian Natural History Museum (Termeszettudomanyi Muzeum)


National Museum of Natural History, Naturalis


Museo Nacional de Historia Natural del Paraguay


Naturhistoriska Rijkmuseet


Naturhistorisches Museum, Wien


Western Australian Museum


Queensland Museum


Northern Territory Museum of Arts and Sciences














Poltys illepidus C.L. Koch

Smith, H. M. 2006

Poltys penicillatus

Rainbow, W 1920: 249

Poltys multituberculatus

Rainbow, W 1916: 118
Rainbow, W 1898: 82

Poltys coronatus

Keyserling, E 1886: 128

Poltys keyserlingi

Keyserling, E 1886: 129

Poltys illepidus C.L. Koch, 1843: 97

Davies, V. T 1988: 316
Chrysanthus, P 1961: 211
Pocock, R 1900: 236
Simon, E 1895: 892
Simon, E 1885: 448
Koch, C 1843: 97