on this site

by Joseph K H Koh
What are spiders?
Where to find spiders?
How to collect & perserve spiders?
How to rear spiders?
Links and further readings
Buy the guidebook
How to identify spiders
Accurate identification of spiders often requires examination of reproductive organs and other minute structures under a binocular microscope (20x-80x), but you should not allow this to deter you from marvelling at the diversity of spider fauna in Singapore. All you need is to be observant in the field and you will soon learn to recognise the main ecological and behavioural groups to which the spiders belong.
More about spiders

What are spiders?

Are spiders venomous?

Scientific names of
spider parts

How are spiders
named and classified

orb webYou will note that some spiders are sedentary and ensnare their prey with webs, whereas others are hunters which do not build any webs. three-dimensional webThe web-builders can be further divided: some build orb-webs (left), others spin sheet-webs, while others build three-dimensional webs of different complexities (right). Among the hunters are those active in the daytime and those active at night. Some hunt among the foliage while others forage close to the ground. Some hunters are fast runners which actively chase prey, but others are sluggish creatures which wait patiently to ambush them.

You will need to learn some unavoidable scientific terms of the various parts of the spider's body so that you can understand description given in this and other books on the identification of spiders. However, this should not be difficult with the aid of the these diagrams of the spider parts.

Measurements given on this website refer to the body length of adult spiders, excluding jaws and legs.

close-up of spider showing eyes and palpsYou will need to distinguish between male and female spiders. Whereas the palps of females and immature males are leg-like, each palp of a mature male (right) is usually swollen at its terminal segment and is equipped with some complex structures where the semen is stored and subsequently discharged when it is inserted into the genital opening of the female during mating. The genital opening of the female is located on the underside of the abdomen just in front of the epigastric groove. The position is often indicated by a hardened (sclerotised) structure called the epigyne. The epigyne may come in the form of a simple or complicated pit, plate or hook.

Spiders with neither modified palps nor epigyne are likely to be juveniles. However, you should be aware that in a few families of spiders, the mature females do not have any well-developed epigyne.
From "A Guide to Common Singapore Spiders" by Joseph K. H. Koh
BP Guide to Nature Series published by the Singapore Science Centre and sponsored by British Petroleum<
© 2000 Joseph K H Koh