AMMOXENIDAE Termite Hunters

Ammoxenidae are litter dwellers, classified among the 'lower gnaphosoid ground spiders' along with Cithaeronidae, Gallieniellidae and Trochanteriidae. Some can be differentiated from these families by scale-like hairs covering the abdomen, giving the surface a silvery sheen. Their rear central eyes have lost the normal focusing lens and become flattened, sometimes becoming ridged and irregularly shaped, probably filtering polarised light as cues for navigation.

Until 2002 ammoxenids had only been known from southern Africa. A small number of ammoxenid spiders were then recorded for Australia by Norman Platnick: four species in the new genus Austrammo (a contraction of Australian ammoxenid) and one in Barrowammo (a contraction of Barrow Island ammoxenid). Australian species are around 3 to 7 mm in body length.

Ammoxenids also have peculiar, whorled setae or hairs on the tips of their pedipalps, hiding a very short, reduced claw. They have two rows of four eyes, more or less straight and equally sized. Austrammo monteithi has been collected all around Australia, mostly in the east. Austrammo hirsti has been found in South Australia and Tasmania. Austrammo harveyi is known from south western and central parts of Western Australia. Austrammo rossi and Barrowammo waldockae are found in coastal parts of northern Western Australia.

Austrammo harveyi Harvey's Termite hunter

Austrammo harveyi Harvey's Termite hunter
♂ Porongurup WA Greg Anderson

Austrammo harveyi Harvey's Termite hunter

Ammoxenidae Austrammo
♀ from just north of the Stirling Ranges WA Volker Framenau



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