Spiny orb-weaver: the Long-winged Kite Spider - Gasteracantha versicolor
Spiny orb-weavers come in a wide variety of shapes and colors. These spiders belong to the genus Gasteracantha within the Araneidae family, and are remarkable for the hard, horny epidermis of their abdomen, which is also armed with two, four, or six prominent spines, varying in length, strength, and direction, and issuing from different points of the margin. The abdomen is also marked on the upperside, and occasionally underneath, with numerous symmetrically disposed cicatricose spots, varying a little in number, size, form, and position.
Gasteracantha versicolor is one of the about 170 species currently recognized into the genus. It is commonly named Long-winged kite spider and can be found in the tropics and sub-tropics, where it occurs in forests. It has an extensive range, from central, east and southern Africa to Madagascar.
The female of this species is 8 to 10 mm long, with a large, glossy and brightly colored abdomen. The hardened abdomen has six peripheral spines, with the lateral pair longer and slightly recurved. Males are much smaller, less colorful and lack the thorny abdominal projections.
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Photo credit: ©Paul Bertner | Locality: Andasibe National Park, Madagascar