Porrhothele antipodiana

Female tunnelweb spiders are quite large and are reportedly New Zealand’s heaviest spider, with some specimens living more than 10 years in captivity. Like the majority of our spiders, this species is only found in Aotearoa, but what’s unusual is that this belongs to an entire spider family (Porrhothelidae) that’s found nowhere else (we only have one other).

These spiders make their webs with their tubular openings under rocks, logs and in hollows. At night a tunnelweb spider will sit poised near the entrance, rushing out to grab prey that ventures too close. They mostly feed on crawling insects like beetles, but if you’re a gardener, you might appreciate the fact that they’ve been observed taking garden snails.

These spiders also have a claim to movie fame as they were a source of inspiration for the design of Shelob, the giant spider-like creature that attacks Frodo and Sam in Peter Jackson’s Return of the King.

This species is most often seen in native bush environments south of Hawke’s Bay in the North Island and everywhere but Fiordland in the South Island.  And snails beware, these spiders are quite at home in gardens too.

Check these links for more info on Black Tunnelweb Spiders in NZ

iNaturalist.nz: Observations of Porrhothele antipodiana

Wikipedia: Information on Porrhothele antipodiana

Te Papa Collections: Black Tunnelweb Spider

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Click on the image to visit the official iNaturalist.nz observation.

iNaturalist.nz image © Uwe Schneehagen
iNaturalist.nz image © Steve Kerr