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Saturday, 19 April 2014

Scary spiders

I freely admit that some spiders are scary, and you have to know what you are doing.

On the left is a funnelweb spider (Atrax sp.) that I found in the Snowy Mountains about thirty years ago.  I was shooting with a Pentax SLR with close-up rings, and I didn't get all that close, and I was a bit nervous — which explains why the shot is a bit blurry.

The rest is probably down to nerves! The shot on the right is a close-up of the fangs of a dead relative, an unnamed mygalomorph spider.  One has every right to be scared of animals like the one above!

Or indeed, of the one on the left. Discretion being better than valour, I freely confess that this redback, photographed in one of the nursery houses, was most sincerely dead. I don't think anybody has died from a redback bite for a LONG time, but the bites are very painful, they say.

The redback is a close relative of the American Black Widow and the New Zealand katipo — and the Australian redback is good at stowing away. One made it to Tristan da Cunha some years ago, from memory it was in some NASA equipment that was shipped there from rural New South Wales.

The thing is: you don't need to get close to spiders to study them, you can engage in historical research. That aside, their eyes "glow in the dark" when you shine a bright light on them, because the eyes reflect some of the light back at you.

At night, you can spotlight spiders on open ground and examine them. Here is my ever-helpful wife posing with a strong light behind her ear: walk out in the garden, look for glowing eyes in the grass and then move in on them.

Just get as close as is comfortable to the glowing eyes, look at them, talk to them nicely, and move on.

And you can use this link to get some historical newspaper information.

This is part of a new series, all of which are tagged Nature Study.  Look for this tag at the end of this post and click on it to find the other related pieces. I have also gone back and retro-tagged previous articles that fit, so you will actually find quite a horde of them, so that you need to look at two sets of older posts as well.

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