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Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Halloween Special

*Warning - Spider alert!*

Arachnophobes do not look any further!

I've been wanting to put some spider photos on my blog but thought I'd better do it all in one post rather than scare the living daylights out of anyone who would rather not see! So what better time than Halloween to do so. :-)

I'll start with the little cute ones, so you can have a quick peek then look away later if it all gets a bit too much.

I've been finding more and more different kinds of spider around my garden which I'm slowly learning a bit about. Some of them are absolutely tiny and I often come across them quite by accident, usually when photographing something else then discovering it in the picture. Some of these tiny spiders that I see are commonly known as crab spiders (mostly family Thomisidae) and like to sit around on flowers waiting for unsuspecting pollinators to arrive which they prey upon. They are not web spinners.

Possibly Misumena vatia. Their colours vary and they can actually
change their colour to suit the flower they are on.

I have no problems with tiny spiders running about over me. I do draw the line at big ones though!

Possibly a crab spider - actually I haven't even tried to ID it!

The other tiny spider that I have only recently discovered, having seen other people's photos and thinking they didn't even exist on this side of the world, are the jumping spiders from the family Salticidae. They are actually quite common, even inside houses, but are so tiny it's not surprising that I didn't notice them because I didn't know what I was supposed to be seeing! I came across my first one on our outdoor garden table.

I think this is the Zebra Spider, Salticus scenicus

The following one I discovered running around on one of my plastic compost bins a few days ago. In fact I've found three different kinds (or different ages, or different sexes..... you see how hard ID is!) of jumping spider on that one bin. They are absolutely miniscule so I can't crop the photos much. It was upside down here! What is so special about these spiders is the huge front eyes they have and the cute look. However they are extremely efficient hunters and often go for prey much bigger than themselves.

Unknown jumping spider

There is one other kind of really small spider that I see everywhere in my woodland area. This is one from the family Linyphiidae known as sheet web spiders of which there are hundreds. I can't exactly ID this one. This spider spins a web down in amongst the ivy that covers the woodland floor. Again it is so small that first I have to look for the web, then look around to see if I can spot the spider. I think this is a female as the males are often a reddy brown colour and much bigger. 

A sheet web spider

Still here? Because I'm going to jump up a size now. We're still talking small spiders, the kind I have peer around in amongst the flowers and foliage to notice!

This following spider was living on top of one of my sedums around the end of September through early October. I am not entirely sure here but think this may be a nursery web spider from the family Pisauridae and if it is, then it most resembles Pisaura mirabilis.

Nursery Web spider. Maybe.

Then there's this handsome spider who was happily posing on top of my chinese cabbage.

Unknown. Possibly another crab spider.

Another unknown hanging around my Hydrangeas

Getting bigger now....... there's also the stretch spiders of which I've come across several. The family is Tetragnathidae and are also known as long jawed orb weavers. Why they are called this is fairly obvious. They like to stretch out and they have long jaws!

A Tetragnatha something. I can't be sure which one, possibly extensa.

Possibly a female Metellina segmentata

Could be the same spider beside my compost bins, with nice festering insect meal!
Not sure if there is something wrong with its leg.

Not sure, I just liked this photo. Some of these spiders spin their webs beside the pond.

Want a few bigger, more gruesome shots, eating prey and all that? OK, here's a slightly bigger and very pretty spider, just hanging around.

I love the leg colours of this one. There's a possibility it may be the
same spider below, Araneus diadematus but I can't tell from this view.

The following spider is a common one in Europe known simply as the Garden Spider or Cross Orb Weaver, Araneus diadematus. I'd call it a medium sized spider so not that hard to spot. Here's one busy wrapping up a fly that got caught in its web.

Araneus diadematus

Same spider the next day. It looked a bit full to me.
Actually it was probably just waiting for its next meal to come along and get trapped!

And then..... there is the house spider. We're all used to them, only they are big, they get trapped in the bath, and they are a bit scary when they scuttle about really fast. When you are trying to photograph a cricket in your cellar, and suddenly you see the following in your viewfinder......

.... oh I can tell you, you jump bloody fast, both the cricket and me! Nearly gave me a heart attack! (The cricket survived, by the way).

But what exactly is a 'house spider'? There seem to be several species, so I'd go with Tegenaria .... something. I'm not going to post a photo here as they give me the creeps too, looking at photos of them, even though I'm happy to take the photo!

There's one more, which is possibly more scary even than the house spider. This one lives in our cellar-cum-mudroom where the walls are just the old stone with mud mortar. It builds a funnel shaped web in a crack in between the stones and as it gets dark, out it comes ..... leg by leg ..... first you see just a few little bits of leg poking out, then a bit more until if you are lucky you get to see half the spider sitting there waiting, with its legs on the silk of the web, waiting to feel some vibration indicating prey has arrived. It is very rare that we see them out of their holes completely. 

I've managed to get photos using flash without them scaring but they are easily spooked and just go straight back inside their hole. When they do emerge from their hole completely, to re-enter it they have to reverse back in! We think they are huge fun and as I'm a bit odd and have a tendancy to name my house spiders (usually Benny, Bobby or Billy), this new kind of spider got named Scary Brian. Only now there's currently Brian's mate and Brian's cousin in the cellar too. We ran out of names. We had a Big Bertha once too; she was a house spider. I have absolutely no idea why 'my' spiders' names have to begin with B but it's just become a habit!

Segestria florentina, a good way out of his/her web

If you got this far then give yourself a clap on the back and go off and get dressed up in some outrageous costume and go and scare the neighbours! Happy Halloween!

See you again in early December (the end of my previous post explains why I will not be around during November). 


  1. I rather like them! I didn't realise spiders had such nice faces!

    1. lol thanks Ladybug! Just as well I didn't post a house spider photo because I don't think they do! But some of the little ones are really cute.

  2. Spiders I can cope with, if it was snakes I wouldn't be looking!!


    1. Hi Philippa, well done for looking! I wasn't sure if I would freak people out but thought it was good fun for Halloween. Hope you had a good time in France. :-)

    2. We did have a good time,I've posted about it on GOGs in general.


  3. I quite like spiders but there's some damn ugly ones in here! Yuk :-(


    1. Awwww how mean ;-) but at least you were brave enough to look! lol

  4. *shivers* I am a gardener *down-under* and they have some pretty dangerous ones down here. I freak so bad when one drops on me that all my neighbours come running wondering who is killing me?

    Thanks was nice to read and view what you have over your way.

    1. Hi Aussiepom (for a moment I read that as Aussieporn and nearly freaked!) lol. Thanks for visiting. I would be worried about gardening in Australia as I know there are plenty of either huge or poisonous or both! All that having to check your shoes for red backs before putting them on.... that puts me off just a bit!

      Having said that I have been bitten by unknown spiders several times here and whilst it's not a rush to hospital job it's not entirely pleasant either! :-)

  5. Brilliant - great photos :)

  6. I love spiders, but I usually cannot stare at them too long before getting a little nauseous. However, visiting your G+ posts and this blog post is getting me so accustomed to seeing them that I think I am almost cured. :) I hope you have a wonderful trip and eat and enjoy until you are full!

    1. Thank you very much Michelle, as you know I am home now! Whilst I have never been particularly bothered by spiders before and will happily remove them from the bath, I haven't felt the need to really study them until now. The more I know about them the more interesting I find them, but still don't fancy having a huge housespider crawling over me!