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Type: Article
Published: 2019-11-26
Page range: 584–600
Abstract views: 317
PDF downloaded: 186

A new forest dwelling button spider from South Africa (Araneae, Theridiidae, Latrodectus)

Wild Tomorrow Fund, 413 W. 48TH ST, 3F, NY, NY, USA, 10036
Wild Tomorrow Fund, 413 W. 48TH ST, 3F, NY, NY, USA, 10036
Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria, Private bag X20, Hatfield, 0028, South Africa
ARC Plant Health and Protection, Private Bag X134, Queenswood, Pretoria, 0121, South Africa
Department of Environmental Sciences, College of Agriculture & Environmental Sciences, University of South Africa, P.O. Box 392, Pretoria, 0003, South Africa
Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve, AndBeyond South Africa (Pty) Ltd, Private Bag X6001, Hluhluwe, 3960
Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria, Private bag X20, Hatfield, 0028, South Africa
Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria, Private bag X20, Hatfield, 0028, South Africa South African National Biodiversity Institute, 2 Cussonia Avenue, Brummeria, Pretoria, 0184
Araneae Theridiidae Latrodectus Button Spider Widow spider KwaZulu-Natal Munyawana Conservancy Phinda Private Game Reserve sand forest Tembe Elephant Park


The medically important spider genus Latrodectus Walckenaer 1805, commonly referred to as “button spiders” in South Africa, is represented by six species in the country. Using morphology and the COI barcoding gene we describe a new forest dwelling species, Latrodectus umbukwane n. sp. Wright, Wright, Lyle and Engelbrecht. Females have red markings on both the ventral and posterior dorsal surfaces of the abdomen, parallel spermathecae and three loops of the copulatory ducts. Males have an embolus with four loops and diagnostic white markings on the ventral surface of the abdomen that darken with age. Egg sacs are smooth, large, and bright purple when freshly laid, turning shiny grey with time. Latrodectus umbukwane n. sp. is known only from sand forest vegetation types in northern Zululand, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. A predicted geographic distribution for this species is provided based on cartographic mapping of known habitat and altitudinal preference, from which area of occupancy (AOO; 698 km2) and extent of occurrence (EOO; 4963 km2) were calculated to assess potential IUCN Red List status. Due to the uncertainty of the distribution of this species, a Red List status of Data Deficient (DD) is recommended. An updated key to the southern African species of Latrodectus is provided.



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