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Rare ‘Velvet Spider’ species found in Maharashtra’s Melghat

Velvet Spider

Mumbai : Velvet Spider, a very rare spider species which was believed to be extinct has been found in the jungles of Melghat in Maharashtra’s Amravati district.

“The spider, thought to be extinct from the Indian subcontinent, has been found almost after a gap of 80 years,” arachnologist Prof Dr Ganesh N Vankhede of Amravati University said.

This particular arthropod species is known for its woolly black or black and red body structure, he said.

“The spider is very human-friendly in the sense that it feeds voraciously on insects, bees and mosquitoes that spread malaria and other diseases,” he said.

Vankhede said the spider species was found only last month during the third conference of the Asian Society of Arachnology held in Amravati between November 16 and 19.

“The finding of the Velvet Spider has been credited to Dr El-Hennawy from Cairo (Egypt) during their excursion in the grasslands of the Muthawa centre in Melghat. The spider was first spotted in the Indian subcontinent way back in 1935 in Khandesh (North Maharashtra),” he said.

The same insect has also been found in countries in Jordan and Iran, he said.

Besides the role that spiders play in controlling insect population, its ‘silk’ finds application in the fields of medicine and defence as well, Vankhede claimed, without elaborating on it.

The Velvet Spider is often described as a ‘Old World Spider’ because of its “old world-like looks”. Known by its scientific name ‘Stegodyphus Pacificus’, this arachnid is eight-eyed and builds unkempt webs, the arachnologist said.

There are four other species of spiders are found in the world.

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