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Spiders are also animals

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.

Baby house spider
Look at these hairy little legs!

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!

Neriene radiata
One of my earliest spider pictures – Neriene radiata
Pisaura mirabilis
A very pretty spider from the nursery web spider family – the one with the most beautiful name, Pisaura Mirabilis
Giant house spider
Giant house spider (Eratigena Atrica) – look at that pattern! Doesn’t it look like she’s wearing a tweed jacket? 🙂
Meta Menardi
Meta Menardi, also known as cave spider, a chubby female.
Meta Menardi
Meta Menardi, male. Do you see those little “balls” at the tips of his pedipalps? We call them “boxing gloves” and it’s typical for males.
Salticus Scenicus
Jumping spiders are the cutest creatures out there. Look at that little face! This is a Salticus scenicus.
Wolf spider
I used to have lots of wolf spiders in my garden in Sweden. I miss them! If you see a spider on the ground in your garden, with lots of babies on her back, that’s a wolf spider.

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:

Gnaposidae
Possibly a Scotophaeus blackwalli or mouse spider – at least I know it’s one from the Gnaphosidae family. I never had these in my Swedish home, so it’s been nice to find them here.
Araneus diadematus
These populate my shrubs. Most likely Araneus diadematus.
Araneidae
Another beauty from the Araneidae family

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

26 Comments

  • Susan
    7th May 2021 at 6:21 pm

    Marvelous macros of graceful spiders.

    Reply
    • Susanne
      8th May 2021 at 8:31 am

      Thanks Susan! They certainly are graceful!

      Reply
  • Kirstin
    8th May 2021 at 2:54 am

    Well, gorgeous photos, but I am NOT a fan of spiders…lol. In fact one time I threw my back out for a week because I was trying to get away from a spider I thought was attached to my foot. Lol!!!

    Reply
    • Susanne
      8th May 2021 at 8:34 am

      LOL that’s awful though! I’ve been like that too. I remember coming home from a holiday in Italy to find a giant house spider in my office. I just closed the door. The next day I went in to check on it and took a picture with my phone so I must have been on my way to admiring them already. But my husband had to remove it for me. I’m glad I can see the beauty of them now.

      Reply
  • Regina
    8th May 2021 at 3:02 pm

    These are fantastic photos. And a great way of facing and overcoming fears – with curiosity and knowledge. We have spiders in our home and garden. When we find one inside we catch it and take it outside. Often when it rains, the rain spiders come in and they are rather large and it can be quite startling to come upon one by surprise. But once we know it is there we help it outside.

    Reply
    • Susanne
      8th May 2021 at 3:28 pm

      Thanks Regina, I like how you look after the spiders that come into your home. But what do you mean with rain spiders? I’ve never heard of that concept! When I do a search, what I get is the huntsman spider – so if that’s your rain spider I assume you’re in Australia or similar? And then yes, they are large!! I’m not yet comfortable with handling large spiders but really, I don’t have to unless I need to move them. The largest spiders I know of here are the giant house spider, cave spider and certain spiders from the nursery web family.
      Thanks for visiting!

      Reply
  • Ally
    8th May 2021 at 5:18 pm

    I’ve never been a big fan of spiders but spending a lot of time in the Bush has cured the worst of my Arachnophobia! Recently had a scorpion spider that I tried (without much success) to photograph. A scorpion spider isn’t strictly speaking an actual spider but it looks like one. You’ve got a bit of a skill going on there for sure!!

    Reply
    • Susanne
      8th May 2021 at 7:01 pm

      Oh, there must be many interesting spiders around there in your bush! Are scorpion spiders the same as amblypygids, or something else?
      Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend!

      Reply
      • Ally
        8th May 2021 at 7:05 pm

        Too many spiders! But I’m getting used to them. My favourite is a golden orb.

        The scorpion spider is a solifugae – see link below. I had one hunting insects in the lodge once for hours abs hours. Didn’t get a great pic in all that time

        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solifugae

        Reply
        • Susanne
          8th May 2021 at 7:08 pm

          Oh, thanks for sharing that link! That’s what I’ve seen on YouTube as a camel spider. There’s been a lot of hype around it and some videos processed to make it look larger than it is. I hope you get a photo the next time you see one.

          Reply
  • Natalie
    8th May 2021 at 6:42 pm

    Susanne, Your knowledge and photos of the spiders are fantastic. I enjoyed my visit to the Montreal Insectarium, the largest insect museum in North America, featuring a large quantity of insects from all around the world. It’s fascinating to learn about them. Thank you for linking to #WeekendCoffeeShare.

    Reply
    • Susanne
      8th May 2021 at 6:59 pm

      Thanks Natalie! I would absolutely love visiting an insect museum. There was an insect collection at the museum in my previous home town in Sweden, but I never got to visit. Maybe another time when I’m over to see friends. It’s good fun to learn more, and there’s so much to learn! Definitely fascinating. Thanks for visiting!

      Reply
  • Laurie
    8th May 2021 at 10:19 pm

    Gorgeous spider photos! I love spiders. I put only the biggest spiders outside if I find them in my house. I figure they have to be eating SOMETHING, right? They are my own little natural pesticide.

    Reply
    • Susanne
      8th May 2021 at 11:54 pm

      They certainly are very good pesticides! Just keep in mind that some spiders are actually indoor spiders, and if you take them out they will most likely come back inside because that’s their normal habitat. For example house spiders (the one with the tweed jacket) and mouse spiders… at least house spiders will be ok outside though, they will find a place to hide in a garage, shed or similar.
      The world of spiders is so interesting and it always makes me happy when someone says they love spiders!

      Reply
  • Gary Wilson
    9th May 2021 at 1:48 am

    Hi Susanne, you would love our county here about an hour north of San Francisco. We live in spider heaven apparently. Our homes are covered in webs and if we sweep them away, two days later, they’re all back. We also have some large spiders but I don’t know their species except the black widow, brown recluse and everyone’s favorite the tarantula. About 5 decades ago (yea, you read that right) my girl friend and I were in a pet store and they guy was selling tarantulas. He made a case for how calm they are and how they actually make interesting pets. I was dubious but soon I let him put one on my arm from where it knew where it wanted to be and made haste to crawl up my arm and settle at the back of my neck where I couldn’t see him and I’d already been told to just stay calm and don’t grab the beast because if I manage to scare it, it will bite me and that would not be good. My girl friend enjoyed my near panic – so I married someone else 😉
    I love your photos. Macro photography is a wonderful way to enjoy nature. You get to see miracles that are right there in front of you each day, but lacking that lens and camera, we miss most of it.
    Great stuff Susanne. Thanks

    Reply
    • Susanne
      9th May 2021 at 8:03 am

      Yes, California should have some decent spiders, I guess! Tarantulas are fascinating but that much larger size of spider is something I’ve never come across, I have no idea how I would react.
      I totally agree about macro photography, it’s definitely the niche that intrigues me the most. I’ve loved it from the first moment I used a macro lens. A whole new world opens up!

      Reply
  • Kerry
    9th May 2021 at 7:50 am

    Well, your photos are amazing! I can accept that some even have the cutest little face. BUT….they terrify me. Literally leave me breathless when I see one. I totally appreciate their place in the eco system, and I’d never ever hurt one, but they are just so scary.

    Reply
    • Susanne
      9th May 2021 at 8:09 am

      Hi Kerry, lovely to see you here! Well done reading through this post if spiders leave you breathless (or maybe that’s IRL rather than photos?). I totally respect people’s fears – but I don’t like when spiders are wrongly described by media and how people usually talk about them as “yucky” and “horrible”. So I really appreciate how you see their importance to the eco system. It’s ok to be scared of them (although I’d recommend working on getting rid of the fear, because it’s worth it) as long as they are treated as valuable animals. Thanks for visiting!

      Reply
  • trent
    9th May 2021 at 1:37 pm

    Nice photos. I’ll admit that spiders creep me out a bit. That being said, I try to go by the live and let live philosophy with them, particularly since they are so beneficial. I have a couple that live in my bathroom – not sure what they are eating in there! I leave them alone and they leave me alone…

    Reply
    • Susanne
      9th May 2021 at 2:04 pm

      That’s a good approach to spiders, and totally what they want! They probably eat mini insects in there and enjoy life. 🙂

      Reply
  • Deborah D Drucker
    9th May 2021 at 7:20 pm

    I think spiders are interesting too. You took some great photos. Good luck finding more species in or near your new home.

    Reply
    • Susanne
      14th May 2021 at 12:48 pm

      Thanks Deborah, and I’m delighted to find another person who find them interesting!

      Reply
  • Antoinette Truglio Martin
    13th May 2021 at 7:30 pm

    I don’t mind Spiders, they are a helpful little “buggers”. And many are such beautiful weavers.

    Reply
    • Susanne
      14th May 2021 at 12:48 pm

      Oh, they definitely are! Spider webs are some amazing artwork.

      Reply
  • Judy@newenglandgardenandthread
    14th May 2021 at 10:50 am

    I’m not intrigued by the spider itself, and avoid them when I can. I am, however, always amazed and in awe of their webs. They are artists in my mind that is for sure. What is more beautiful than a web with a few dew drops? Not much. 🙂

    Reply
    • Susanne
      14th May 2021 at 12:49 pm

      Oh yes, the webs! They definitely are competent artists. One day I’ll find an opportunity to photograph a web with drops. So beautiful!

      Reply

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