Hello there! Grab a good cup of coffee, and let’s sit down together. We need to talk about spiders. It’s a favourite topic of mine, and also my favourite subject when I use the camera. It’s a shame I have so few spiders around my new home!
How is your relationship with spiders? Are they cute? Do you see them as interesting and fascinating creatures? Or are they scary to you?
To begin with, I know that there are people who suffer from spider phobia. If that’s you and if you get near panic attacks by seeing photos of spiders, perhaps you shouldn’t read any further. But if you can handle seeing photos of them, this post definitely is for you.
Spiders are animals. Just like any other animals – dogs, cats, birds, bumblebees, pandas. And they should be treated as animals. But media has for some reason since a long time portraited them as horrible creatures that want to eat you alive. Information about spiders in media is most often exaggerated, incorrect and biased by someone’s fear – or possibly the wish to created a click-baity headline. Actually, news media feeds people’s fear of spiders, because of how articles are written. Article authors are happy to exaggerate EVERYTHING that has to do with spiders, and almost always negative and fear-mongering things, instead of writing facts. This irritates me enormously. I love spiders and I want more people to appreciate them for what they are – animals. What if I said all the horrible things about dogs, that people say about spiders? “Eew, what a horrible, yucky little dog, I hate it.” How would that sound?
I do understand that people can have fear of spiders. I used to have that too. The sight of a giant house spider would make me close the door and run away, and other people had to remove spiders for me. This wasn’t so long ago. Our house in Sweden was quite populated by house spiders, and I had a large and heavy book prepared to drop on spiders that came in my way. But that has changed. Now I like them, I enjoy having them around, and want them to live. I didn’t do any expensive therapy sessions to cure my fear – I used a camera with a macro lens.
I started my photography journey around 2013, when I bought my first system camera. After a trip in Italy, when I had taken lots of photos up in the mountains, I was deeply disappointed with so many of them. I then decided it was time to get something more than a compact camera, and to learn photography for real. During that holiday, I had also discovered how much photography helped me overcome fears – at least temporarily. We drove around in the mountains in the Val di Scalve area near Bergamo, and on the tiniest and scariest roads I tried to take photos from the car window. I then realised that focusing on getting good photographs made me stop thinking about how scary it was.
After that trip, I bought a Canon DSLR, and shortly after, a friend of mine (who also used Canon, and still does) showed me her macro lens. It was the first time I tried a macro lens, and I was absolutely fascinated. I was already in love with close-up photography (especially after I took the bug photo you can see in this post), but the macro lens revealed the details on a totally different level. I immediately knew that I wanted a macro lens, and bought one the year after.
To practice my photography (and macro) skills, I took photos of everything – the surface of objects you rarely see in detail, or with interesting details that are invisible to the human eye unless you go really close.
With the length and properties of the macro lens, I could start taking photos of spiders without having to go very close to them. I had so much fun during these sessions! I started discovering beautiful colours and patterns, the details on their little bodies and heads, such as hairs and the number of eyes. I was fascinated. I just couldn’t stop taking photos of spiders, to discover more, and to challenge myself to always get better, more detailed, photos.
I started to even search for spiders, to be able to get photos of different species. During this time, I came across a Swedish Facebook group for spider enthusiasts, and joined. The group is to discuss spiders in Sweden, and to learn more about them. People post photos of spiders they’ve found, to get help with identifying the species. The admins are experts in the field, and many of the members are also very competent. I’ve learned so much since joining the group and I’ve really enjoyed my time there. The more I’ve learned about spiders, the more I’ve begun to admire and enjoy them. They are not scary to me anymore – they are beautiful and fascinating little creatures.
In 2002, a project started in Sweden to explore and describe all species of multicellular plants, animals and fungi. This led to the discovery of many new species and also that all these species are described and named. This is unique to Sweden but there may be a similar project in Norway. So every subspecies has a name – a common name, not only a scientific name. Many species have common names in English speaking countries but not all, and some may have a few different names for the same species, which means that if two people talk about one particular spider for example, they may actually speak of different spiders because the naming is too confusing. This is why I prefer to use the scientific name when I speak about spiders, but also plants (I’m not very consistent with this, though). However, learning about this has been very interesting but a bit frustrating when I try to communicate with people in English about certain spiders for example. “This is a nursery web spider. No, not THAT nursery web spider. I mean the pretty one with white side whiskers.” (Nursery web spider is actually a family, not a specific species)
Here are some of the spiders I’ve photographed in Sweden. Make sure you look at all these different patterns, colours and details!
Sadly, in my new home in Ireland, I have very few spiders. At least very few different spider families and I generally don’t see them much. In the summer there are lots of webs in my bush daisy and rosemary, but mostly from a certain family, araneidae. I’d like to see more variety but haven’t taken the time to do so much research about what spiders I should expect to see in this area or in my type of garden. Perhaps I’ll do that this summer.
Here are some of my Irish spider pictures:
Parts of my garden should be a paradise to spiders, but perhaps it’s too windy? I need to learn more about this. This year I’ll try to make a bigger effort and hopefully I’ll find some. Creating a garden that attracts insects will also attract spiders, so there is hope for this garden if I manage to make it bloom with the right plants and to create good areas for insects.
So now you know everything about another of my geeky interests! I’m delighted to bring some spiders onto this site. If I find any interesting spiders in my garden this summer, I’ll make sure to share the big news!
Linking with Natalie’s Weekend Coffee Share