Scientific name: Theridion grallator
Hawaiian name: nananana makaki`i
The colloquially named Happyface spider is a small spider found in the rainforests of the islands Maui, Hawaii, Oahu and Molokai at elevations of 1000 to 6000 feet. Typically around a quarter of an inch long, its diet consists of small insects that it hunts mainly during the night. They spin their webs on the undersides of leaves of specific plants and usually avoid contact with humans or other potentially danger animals, although only birds present a natural threat. Humans present a possible danger due to loss of habitat to agriculture, but the population is apparently healthy. First discovered in 1900, little was known about the happyface spider until 1972.
The happyface spider's claim to fame lies in its bright yellow coloring and a peculiar pattern of red and black spots on the abdomen. These spots vary widely between spiders, making them of interest to scientists who have guessed that the different spots provides camouflage against birds.Strangely enough, the red and black spots, combined with the yellow body, tend to make the spider's abdomen look like the widely known yellow smiley face icon. Not surprisingly, the spiders have made it into the cute animal category in Hawaii.