Long-tailed Orb-weaving Spider
S10 Male: profile, close up
Long-tailed Orb-weaving Spider
S10 Male: Palps
Long-tailed Orb-weaving Spider (Argiope protensa)Class: Animals (Animalia) - Jointed Legs (Arthropoda) - Spiders, Scorpions, Mites & Ticks (Arachnida)
Order: Spiders (Araneae)
Family: Orb-weaver Spider (Orb: Araneidae)     iNaturalist Observation
Species: Long-tailed Orb-weaving Spider (Argiope protensa)
This Photo:     S10 Male: Eye Arrangement + Palps
Synonym: Argiope extensa
Other names: Tailed Forest Spider or Teardrop Spider

Thank you Matthew Connors, David Muirhead & Natasha (Ethmostigmus) for confirming the id of this species for us

General Species Information:
Found on Ellura (in the Murray Mallee, SA) and elsewhere
We have found quite a few of these over the years; photographing 12 specimens, 7 at Ellura of which 2 were male. Mostly seen in summer, one was found in July (the juvi).
Probably the most varied invert we come across; variations in colour pattern & body shape - occuring in one individual at times. Spiders can also "shrivel up" when hungry or just laid eggs, in this case giving them a blunt tailed apprearance rather than the typical pointy tail we see in photo's.
We have tried to highlight here how each individual can change it's stripes and length of it's tail very quickly. Please take note of the specimen id (S1, S2, etc) to compare the differences that occur in a short time period within one individual.
We suspect the stripe change is to do with breathing; perhaps blowing it'self up in some defensive mechanism?
The two males have quite different palps. It's quite possible they are different species as the palps are diagnostic in male spiders. It may also be a juvenile vs mature specimen variation. Or some damage caused due to breeding?
Recently it was recognised that A. protensa & A. extensa are actually the same species. No wonder it was so difficult to differentiate them!!
With the "tail" being able to be retracted, size is a difficult thing to compare. Should probably do the same as reptiles & measure to the vent; or spinnerets in this case.
They range in size from ~3mm for the Juvi, ~5 & ~6mm for the males, ~6-11mm for other females. 3 to 11mm is an extreme size variation for spiders, again suggesting different species or unusual for spiders in that juveniles look identical to adults; which goes against the notion these vary so much

Copyright © 2018-2022 Brett & Marie Smith. All Rights Reserved. Photographed 20-Nov-2018
This species is an Australian Native Species, not listed in the SA Murray Mallee Survey of 2010.