Happy Face Spider is the common English name for the Theridion grallator. In the native Hawaiian language, it is called the nananana makaki’i, which translates literally as “face-painted spider.” This unusually marked invertebrate has a highly restricted area endemic range.
The precise evolutionary purpose of this particular pattern remains unknown. Scientists theorize that it may serve as camouflage for the arachnid, given its tropical habitat. Imagine coming upon this little guy while enjoying some tropical beauty.
Fortunately for arachnophobes, the Happy Face Spider is actually rather minuscule in size.
Like so many others, they now face the threat of extinction. Their primary threats are a combination of habitat loss and the highly restricted nature of their endemic range.
Happy Face Spider Physical Description
The Happy Face Spider obviously derives its common name from the unusual, but distinctive, markings on its back. A pattern approximately resembling an exaggerated smiling human face appears on their backs.
Remarkably, their tiny bodies are almost translucent. In color, they are typically a mildly bright yellow, though some individuals also display small red spots at the various joints of their legs.
Their average leg span is only 0.2 in (5 mm), which certainly qualifies as tiny, indeed. No discernible degree of sexual dimorphism is displayed by this species.
The extremely short fangs make it unlikely that they can even penetrate human skin. The legs, especially the front two, are highly elongated and thin.
Their venom is extremely mild, which, combined with their size, means they pose no threats to humans.
Happy Face Spider Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The Happy Face Spider is only endemic to four of the Hawaiian Islands. Within that range, it typically inhabits the rainforest regions and lives at altitudes ranging between 980-6,560 ft (300-2,000 m) above sea level.
Its’ natural camouflage blends perfectly into its environment since they most commonly live beneath leaves on the rainforest floor. There they occasionally spin tiny webs to catch their prey. More typically, they simply hide beneath the leaves and act as ambush predators.
Their prey consists of various tiny native insect species, while their own predators mainly include the various birds endemic to the region.
As in many spider species, the male dies soon after mating, and the female then guards her eggs until they have hatched.