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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.

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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!

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One of my earliest spider pictures – Neriene radiata
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A very pretty spider from the nursery web spider family – the one with the most beautiful name, Pisaura Mirabilis
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Giant house spider (Eratigena Atrica) – look at that pattern! Doesn’t it look like she’s wearing a tweed jacket? 🙂
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Meta Menardi, also known as cave spider, a chubby female.
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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.
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Jumping spiders are the cutest creatures out there. Look at that little face! This is a Salticus scenicus.
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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:

Spiders
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.
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These populate my shrubs. Most likely Araneus diadematus.
Spiders
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

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Comments:

  • 7th May 2021

    Marvelous macros of graceful spiders.

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  • 8th May 2021

    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!!!

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  • 8th May 2021

    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.

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  • 8th May 2021

    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!!

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      • 8th May 2021

        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

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  • 8th May 2021

    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.

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  • 8th May 2021

    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.

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  • 9th May 2021

    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

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  • 9th May 2021

    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.

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  • 9th May 2021

    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…

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  • 9th May 2021

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

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  • 13th May 2021

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

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  • 14th May 2021

    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. 🙂

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