Friday, October 31, 2014

South Africa (2004)

Date of issue: July 30th, 2004
Name of issue: The wonder world of spiders
Number of arachnid related stamps in issue: 10/10

An absolutely sublime self adhesive series from South Africa. The back of the sheet also contains information about the spiders. The two FDC are HUGE!

Note that Michel catalogue did not number the stamps following the lay out in the back of the sheet. That is why the number of the stamp does not match the number of the description from the back of the souvenir sheet.

Note that for spider #7 (Michel #: 1571), Sparassidae is written with three "S".

Information from the postal services booklet (please note that the information about the animals may or may not be accurate, I am simply re-typing the information).

There is a wonderful world of colour, form, behaviour and adaptations not far from anyone of us. This is the world of the spider. Some of the reasons why spiders are able to adapt successfully to diverse environments are their ability to produce silk. Silk is regarded as one of the seven wonders of the animal world. It is the strongest natural fibre known and stronger than steel.

Spiders also produce venom. All spiders except one family, the Uloboridae have a pair of venom glands that secrete venom with which they subdue prey. Although spiders are widely feared and much maligned their importance cannot be overstated.

Based on their general behaviour two types of spiders are recognized namely the free-living wandering spiders and the web dwellers. The wandering spiders catch their prey with force using their fangs and legs. The are found in different habitats, for example ground dwellers, plant dwellers, bark spiders and flower inhabitants.

The web dwellers contruct a variety of different kinds of webs. The best-known web is the orb-web. But there are also spiders that construct funnel-webs, space-webs, sheet-webs, retreat-webs, bolas-webs, single-line webs to name but a few.

South Africa has a rich spider fauna and 67 families represented by 433 genera and about 2900 species are known. This represents about 9% of the world's fauna. This rich fauna of spiders can play an important part in South Africa in the control of pest spiders.

1. Hedgehog spider
Family: Araneidae
Genus: Pycnacantha
The hedgehog spider is decorated with numerous spiky tubercles, ressembles a hedgehog, hence the common name. With its spiky appearance it blends in with the grass and bushes they are found on. After sunset the spider spins a small U-shaped trapezium web from which it hangs by the hind legs. With the front legs spread wide flying insects, usually moths, are grabbed from the air.

Michel #: 1565
Scott #: 1337a
Yvert #: 1295
order: Araneae
family: Araneidae
Pycnacantha tribulus (Fabricius, 1781)

2. Golden orb-web spider
Family: Nephilidae * (written Tetragnathidae on sheet)
Genus: Nephila
The golden orb-web spiders are one of our largest web dwellers. They build large (1-1,5m) golden orb-webs between trees or telephone poles. The spiders are active in the day and can be seen hanging head downwards in the web. The supporting lines are very strong and some resistance is felt when one wanders into them.

Michel #: 1566
Scott #: 1337b
Yvert #: 1296
order: Araneae
family: *Nephilidae
Tetragnathidae (on stamp)
Nephila sp.

3. Lynx spider
Family: Oxyopidae
Genus: Peucetia
These spiders are known as lynx spiders because of teh way in which they hunt their prey. They move around on plants leaping from leaf to leaf. They catch prey with their legs and often do so by jumping a few centimeters or more in the air to seize a passing insect in full flight.

Michel #: 1567
Scott #: 1337c
Yvert #: 1297
order: Araneae
family: Oxyopidae
Peucetia viridans (Hentz, 1832)

4. Flower crab spider
Family: Thomisidae
Genus: Thomisus
The flower crab spiders live permanently on flowers and are brightly coloured. The females are able to change colour depending on the colour of the flower she finds herself on and can change colour from white, yellow, pink or pale green. Flower crab spiders are ambushers par excellence and they sit motionless on the flower waiting for insect visitors. The insects are grabbed with the well-developed front legs.

Michel #: 1570
Scott #: 1337f
Yvert #: 1300
order: Araneae
family: Thomisidae
Thomisus sp.

5. Ladybird spider
Family: Araneidae
Genus: Paraplectana
The ladybird spider makes an orb web in vegetation. They are brighly coloured spiders with distinct yellow or red spots on their abdomen, resembling a ladybird. The web is made when the sun sets and removed early in the morning. During the day they rest on the vegetation resembling an insect.


Michel #: 1569
Scott #: 1337e
Yvert #: 1299
order: Araneae
family: Araneidae
Paraplectana thorntoni (Blackwall, 1865)

6. Black button spider
Family: Theridiidae
Genus: Latrodectus
The black button spiders form a complex represented by four of the most venomous spider species in South Africa. They produce neurotoxic venom and are of medical importance. They are pitch-black spiders with dorsal markings varying from red stripes to red spots on the abdomen. Their egg cocoons are usually round with a smooth surface. They construct their webs in vegetation usually near the ground.

Michel #: 1568
Scott #: 1337d
Yvert #: 1298
order: Araneae
family: Theridiidae
Latrodectus sp.

7. Rain spider
Family: Sparassidae
Genus: Palystes
The rain spiders are large nocturnal spiders wandering around in vegetation in search of prey. When disturbed the front legs are raised in warning. The rain spiders frequently enter houses, usually one or two days before it starts to rain, hence their common name "rain spiders". They are often noticed at night on the walls where they prey on insects attracted to the light source. Their large egg sac is made in plants and are covered by leaves held together with silk threads.

Michel #: 1571
Scott #: 1337g
Yvert #: 1301
order: Araneae
family: *Sparassidae
Sparasssidae (in description)
Palystes superciliosus L. Koch, 1875

8. Horn baboon spider
Family: Theraphosidae
Genus: Ceratogyrus
The horned baboon spiders are ground dwellers and they construct permanent silk-lined burrows in the ground. The entrance of the burrow is left open with only some silk lining extending past the entrance to form a silk rim. They are predominantly sit-and-wait hunters and at night they wait for prey to approach the entrance of the burrow.

Michel #: 1572
Scott #: 1337h
Yvert #: 1302
order: Araneae
family: Theraphosidae
Ceratogyrus marshalli Pocock, 1897

9. Trap door spider
Family: Ctenizidae
Genus: Stasimopus
Trap door spiders live permanently in burrows. The burrow is lined with a layer of felt-like silk and closes off from the outside with a well fitting, hinged trapdoor. The trapdoor is made of soil, often clay, modelled into shape and reinforced with silk. The trapdoors are of variable thickness.

Michel #: 1573
Scott #: 1337i
Yvert #: 1303
order: Araneae
family: Ctenizidae
Stasimopus sp.

10. Spotted crab spider
Family: Thomisidae
Genus: Platythomisus
The spotted crab spiders are one of the larger crab spiders. They live on the leaves of trees and shrubs and with their cryptic colouration they blend in with their surroundings. They are mainly active during the day and their gait is crab-like hence their common name. They have strong bodies and robust front legs, which enable them to catch prey. Although they have weak chelicerae, they secrete extremely potent venom which enables them to attack insects 2-3 times their size.

Michel #: 1574
Scott #: 1337j
Yvert #: 1304
order: Araneae
family: Thomisidae
Platythomisus sp.

Souvenir sheet (front):

cancelled (with spider shaped cancellation)

Souvenir sheet (back):


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