Home / Cobweb Spiders / Happy Face (Theridion grallator)

Happy Face (Theridion grallator)

The Happy Face is a species of spider endemic to only a few islands of the Hawaiian archipelago. Certain morphs of these spiders have a pattern that resembles a smiley face or a grinning face of a clown on their abdomen. Interestingly, each spider has a unique pattern, with the patterns differing from island to island. However, some specimens lack markings altogether. Some authorities think that their bright patterns may be an adaptation to keep them from being eaten by birds. Their population is rapidly decreasing, which might lead them to become endangered.

Happy Face Spider
Hawaiian Happy Face Spider

Scientific Classification

Physical Description and Identification

Adults

Size: Up to 5 mm (0.20 in) in length

Color: The entire body is pale to bright yellow in color with the characteristic red smiling marks in the middle of the body, and two pairs of dots just below it that resemble two eyes with eyebrows.

Other Characteristic Features: The male Hawaiian happy face spiders leave their webs and roam around in the forest in search of a female spider for reproduction. Once found, it performs a courtship and indulges in mating, after which they die soon.

By evolution, their legs are somewhat translucent and are quite long. Both these features help them remain attached to the base of the leaves almost invisible.

Happy Face Spider Size

Eggs

The females lay up to 250 eggs at a time, after which, it places them in silk brown-toned egg sacs and sticks them to the web. The female spider guards and protects the eggs from predators until the babies hatch out.

Happy Face Spider Eggs

Spiderlings

The mother spider catches prey for its young ones. The eggs go through all the stages of the larval life before they eventually hatch out as baby spiders. Like most of the other species, they resemble smaller versions of the adults when they first come out of the eggs and live on insects that are caught in the web. The juveniles keep shedding their exoskeletons in their process of growing quite a few times throughout their life.

Baby Happy Face Spider

How Poisonous is the Happy Face Spider

The Hawaiian happy-faced spiders are highly derived members of the Cobweb Spiders group but do not share the venom toxicity of their much-feared relatives. The Hawaiian happy face spider is not poisonous to humans, nor is it prone to bite.

Happy Face Spider Web

Quick Facts

Other Names Hawaiian happy-face spider, nananana makakiʻi (Hawaiian name, meaning ‘face-patterned spider’)
Lifespan Males die soon after mating, but females live longer
Distribution Only found on four of the Hawaiian islands, viz. Oahu, Molokai, Maui, and Hawaii.
Habitat Rainforest areas
Common predators Island birds are their primary enemies
Diet Any small insect that it encounters
Happy Face Spider Image

Did You Know

  • Unlike many other spiders that use their webs as a medium to detect prey, these species detect their prey through the vibrations made by the prey, which is transmitted through the residence leaf.
  • Before mating, a male creates sound by rubbing two body parts together.
Picture of a Happy Face Spider

Image Credits: Live.staticflickr.com, D36tnp772eyphs.cloudfront.net, Imgc.allpostersimages.com, Footage.framepool.com, veresan.com,
Farm9.staticflickr.com, Static1.squarespace.com, Footage.framepool.com

The Happy Face is a species of spider endemic to only a few islands of the Hawaiian archipelago. Certain morphs of these spiders have a pattern that resembles a smiley face or a grinning face of a clown on their abdomen. Interestingly, each spider has a unique pattern, with the patterns differing from island to island. However, some specimens lack markings altogether. Some authorities think that their bright patterns may be an adaptation to keep them from being eaten by birds. Their population is rapidly decreasing, which might lead them to become endangered.

Happy Face Spider
Hawaiian Happy Face Spider

Physical Description and Identification

Adults

Size: Up to 5 mm (0.20 in) in length

Color: The entire body is pale to bright yellow in color with the characteristic red smiling marks in the middle of the body, and two pairs of dots just below it that resemble two eyes with eyebrows.

Other Characteristic Features: The male Hawaiian happy face spiders leave their webs and roam around in the forest in search of a female spider for reproduction. Once found, it performs a courtship and indulges in mating, after which they die soon.

By evolution, their legs are somewhat translucent and are quite long. Both these features help them remain attached to the base of the leaves almost invisible.

Happy Face Spider Size

Eggs

The females lay up to 250 eggs at a time, after which, it places them in silk brown-toned egg sacs and sticks them to the web. The female spider guards and protects the eggs from predators until the babies hatch out.

Happy Face Spider Eggs

Spiderlings

The mother spider catches prey for its young ones. The eggs go through all the stages of the larval life before they eventually hatch out as baby spiders. Like most of the other species, they resemble smaller versions of the adults when they first come out of the eggs and live on insects that are caught in the web. The juveniles keep shedding their exoskeletons in their process of growing quite a few times throughout their life.

Baby Happy Face Spider

How Poisonous is the Happy Face Spider

The Hawaiian happy-faced spiders are highly derived members of the Cobweb Spiders group but do not share the venom toxicity of their much-feared relatives. The Hawaiian happy face spider is not poisonous to humans, nor is it prone to bite.

Happy Face Spider Web

Quick Facts

Other Names Hawaiian happy-face spider, nananana makakiʻi (Hawaiian name, meaning ‘face-patterned spider’)
Lifespan Males die soon after mating, but females live longer
Distribution Only found on four of the Hawaiian islands, viz. Oahu, Molokai, Maui, and Hawaii.
Habitat Rainforest areas
Common predators Island birds are their primary enemies
Diet Any small insect that it encounters
Happy Face Spider Image

Did You Know

  • Unlike many other spiders that use their webs as a medium to detect prey, these species detect their prey through the vibrations made by the prey, which is transmitted through the residence leaf.
  • Before mating, a male creates sound by rubbing two body parts together.
Picture of a Happy Face Spider

Image Credits: Live.staticflickr.com, D36tnp772eyphs.cloudfront.net, Imgc.allpostersimages.com, Footage.framepool.com, veresan.com,
Farm9.staticflickr.com, Static1.squarespace.com, Footage.framepool.com

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