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Monday, 7 April 2014

Looking at spiders 1

I took up spiders in 1958 when I saw Keith McKeown's Australian Spiders. The frontispiece was of a jumping spider like the one on the left, but the photo showed it face-on, and I fancied a resemblance to my Latin teacher. Any life form that could mimic Latin teachers had to be OK.

Then, with my (very) distant Scots ancestry, the St Andrews Cross Spider (right) was interesting. They insist on putting a saltire in their web, and then put two legs along each line. Why?

The best guess I have seen is that they do it to make themselves look larger to potential predators. They are a nice easy target, and usually found in the nursery where I work as a volunteer

Over the years, I have come up with some wrinkles to make snapping easier. That jumping spider kept springing away, so I put in a glass salad bowl, with blue card in the bottom. Then I just had to wait until it got tired of leaping.

I used to wonder how orb-weavers (left) avoided getting caught in their vertical webs, but as the side-shot on the right shows, the webs are NOT vertical. The web is just a blur because most of it is out of the focal field, but you can see the angle.

Later, I decided to try capturing the web better, and started working with card sheets, and as you can see on the left, not all cards are equal. The blue background hides the web completely. Still, the plain background is less distracting that out-of-focus brickwork.

This is part of a new series, all of which are tagged Nature Study.  Look for the tag at the end of this post and click on it to find the related pieces. I have also gone back and retro-tagged previous articles that fit.

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