Fam. TETTIGONIIDAE, Wlk.
Fam. SCARIDAE, Wlk.
Fam. IASSIDAE, Wlk.
Fam. PSYLLIDAE, Latr.
Fam. COCCIDAE, Leach.
With a few striking exceptions, the true spiders of Ceylon resemble in oeconomy and appearance those we are accustomed to see at home. They frequent the houses, the gardens, the rocks and the stems of trees, and along the sunny paths, where the forest meets the open country, the Epeira and her congeners, the true net-weaving spiders, extend their lacework, the grace of their designs being even less attractive than the beauty of the creatures that elaborate them.
Those that live in the woods select with singular sagacity the bridle-paths and narrow passages for expanding their nets; no doubt perceiving that the larger insects frequent these openings for facility of movement through the jungle; and that the smaller ones are carried towards them by the currents of air. These nets are stretched across the path from four to eight feet above the ground, hung from projecting shoots, and attached, if possible, to thorny shrubs; and sometimes exhibit the most remarkable scenes of carnage and destruction. I have taken down a ball as large as a man’s head consisting of successive layers rolled together, in the heart of which was the den of the family, whilst the envelope was formed, sheet after sheet, by coils of the old web filled with the wings and limbs of insects of all descriptions, from the largest moths and butterflies to mosquitoes and minute coleoptera. Each layer appeared to have been originally suspended across the passage to intercept the expected prey; and, as it became surcharged with carcases, it was loosened, tossed over by the wind or its own weight, and wrapped round the nucleus in the centre, the spider replacing it by a fresh sheet, to be in turn detached and added to the mass within.
Walckenaer has described a species of large size, under the name of Olios Taprobanius, which is very common and conspicuous from the fiery hue of the under surface, the remainder being covered with gray hair so short and fine that the body seems almost denuded. It spins a moderate-sized web, hung vertically between two sets of strong lines, stretched one above the other athwart the pathways. Some of the spider-cords thus carried horizontally from tree to tree at a considerable height from the ground are so strong as to cause a painful check across the face when moving quickly against them; and more than once in riding I have had my hat lifted off my head by a single thread.