Katipo Project Survival Kit

Katipo Spider

The katipo is a native New Zealand spider (Latrodectus katipo), related to the Australian redback and the American black widow.

Katipo spiderThe katipo is ground dwelling, living in and around New Zealand beaches in burrows or under logs and other debris. The female is larger than the male and has a distinctive red stripe. She is the most poisonous native animal in New Zealand. Unlike their Australian cousins, however, katipo are rare, so few people suffer katipo bites. New Zealand hospitals have antidote for the venom. In untreated cases, reactions vary from discomfort through to difficulty in breathing and problems with the nervous system.

 

Even the female katipo is small - her abdomen (the fat bit) is about the size of a pea at maturity. Males are around 4mm. Male katipo look like immature females. Contrary to popular belief males do not sacrifice their lives for a good time in the "web-of-love". He will approach her with some caution, twanging said web to make sure she knows he's coming, and if she's too aggressive he'll run away - preferring to live and love another day.

Katipo is a Maori word, and said like

Car-tde-poe

the "t" is a soft sound almost like a "d"

In full colour...

Above: Mature female katipo
Female Katipo spider

Female katipo, about 3 months
from full maturity

Male Katipo spider

Mature male katipo