Thursday, July 24, 2008

Fifty-six legs

One thing about a vacation; I've got a whole new batch of insects and spiders to look at. Even when I've only travelled a few miles.

I've been prowling around the house and garden here in Strathcona, looking in all the corners and under leaves. And here are some of the spiders I have found.

(I just crashed my daughter's computer, trying to browse BugGuide, and now the mouse won't work. So IDs will have to wait.)

Found at night, in a corner of a bedroom. So elegant!

This is another night prowler. Very tiny, a few millimetres toe to toe. But an efficient predator, judging by the detritus. He is extremely shy, so as soon as the camera gets anywhere in his vicinity, he turns tail and buries his nose in the corner. Wishing for a real hole, no doubt; he pulls in the legs and bundles himself up into a tiny spot of black. I haven't been able to see the pattern on his back clearly at all.

A daytime spider. These are all over the garden. I've been pruning and weeding, and they take off running in every direction when I bag up my cuttings.

This one was on the underside of a hydrangea leaf, along with the zebra jumping spider I posted this morning. Daytime, again. It's trying to climb up the slippery, shiny dog dish; the reflections make it very leggy.

Daytime. On the kitchen window frame. She sat there, unmoving, while I raised and lowered the window, maneuvered my hand, the camera, my head around in the gap, tried again and again to take a photo backwards; not a sign that she had noticed anything unusual.

That lump? I think it must be eggs, and she's standing guard. "You'll get to my babies only over my dead body," she says.

Below that window, on the wall; a smaller spider. It has no web, but sits in the same place all day.

And tonight, out on the porch, I found one of the cross spiders in its web. Most of them are active in the daytime, building webs across pathways where humans will run into them. I am surprised to see a web still intact at night.



  1. Anonymous4:03 pm

    How do you take pictures of these tiny creatures?

  2. Very patiently. I get down to their level (or up to it, as the case may be), move in slowly, with the camera set to macro, and take lots of shots.

    Usually, I take a photo from 6 inches away, move an inch closer, take another, move in ... Towards the end, I'm moving in about a quarter of an inch each time.

    And I try to get as much light as I possibly can, sometimes multiplying sources; overhead light, plus daylight, plus flash if possible. (Too close, and it leaves my target in the dark.)

    And 20 shots of one spider is about par. Most of those won't work at all. Sometimes none of them do, and I go back and take another 30, if the critter is still available.

    A better camera would be a great help; both the cameras I use are low-end.

  3. What kind of spider is the 2nd picture from the bottom? It's the tan-ish one with a kind of yellow on its back?

  4. peajay,
    I'm not sure what kind it is. I've only seen the one like this, so I don't know if its a natural variation of a tan abdomen or the usual colour.

  5. Looking at it again, it may be the male to the female with the eggs. It has no web, leaving that task to the female.

  6. Anonymous10:01 pm

    What kind of spider is the second one. I think it's the same as the one in the kitchen window.

  7. Anonymous,
    I watched it and its relatives, always in that corner, for a couple of years. As far as I can tell, it's one of the cobweb spiders, but if they ever got any bigger than that, they went someplace else. Every one I saw was pinhead sized.


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