Cyrtophora citricola  (Forsskål, 1775)
Main synonym = Aranea citricola    ForsskÃ¥l, 1775
Taxonomical Classification:  Animalia / Arthropoda / Arachnida / Araneae / Araneidae
Tropical Tent-web Spider     Brimba tal-pal tal-bajtar
Further Information:
This spider occurs in the warmer parts of Europe, Asia and Africa, but also reported in Australia, Costa Rica, Hispaniola and Colombia. In Malta, it is quite frequent, building large, dense webs in empty spaces located between leaves of prickly pear trees (Opuntia ficus-indica). Their horizontal asymetrical web forms a kind of conical shape in the middle, with many support lines holding it. The web is not very sticky, often in rectangular fashion, but also spiral and radials are constructed from the same silk.

The colour of C. citricola vary greatly; from a black and white-spotted pattern, to hues of brown. Males sometimes appear black while the females resemble a piece of dead leaf, and will sometimes hide in debris that has fallen into the web, increasing the chance of not being observed.

Body length in females normally reaches 10-12 mm, with males only 3 mm long. Many females can build their webs in close vicinity, and colonies with hundreds of individuals sharing the same huge web have been observed. Colonies often consist of the offspring of a single female, that do not disperse after hatching.

Adult males do not build webs and stop eating, hence die shortly after mating, and hence more difficult to observe in the wild than females. Females may live long enough to guard their young, but sometimes die before hatching occurs. The flattened, elliptical egg sacs are up to 20 mm long, with a bluish to greenish hue, and up to ten egg sacs can be produced by a female individual.

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