Giant House Spider

The dog saw it a moment before I did, and almost managed to grab it off the vinyl floor before my quick intervention. This spider was BIG, appearing significantly larger than spiders usually found around the house, and with much bulkier body and legs than the long-legged harvestmen we sometimes see. Almost scary!

I first made a quick grab for the camera before it disappeared, and then carefully extracted it to the outdoors, using a large tumbler and piece of card.

giant house spider

An unusual feature of this spider is that the thorax is larger than the abdomen – most seem to be proportioned the other way around. Research shows it to be a giant house spider, actually quite common, with body length over half-an-inch.

According to Wikipedia, these spiders have eight rather ineffective eyes; the flash used for the photo has highlighted two of them. These spiders are not said to be keen on biting pets or people, so are not as scary as they look at first sight.

Spider silk mystery

While watching the roosting birds come in as the sun gradually descended down to the level of the hills at Parkgate, I became aware of all these lines that had appeared in the grass of the marsh – apparently long strands of spider silk lit up by the very low sunlight behind them. The more I looked, the more the grass seemed to be covered in lots of long strands of spider silk. So I took a photograph.

parkgate spider web

You can see the left-right yellowish line clearly in the photograph. Now, what puzzles me is, how can a single strand of spider silk appear so thick on a photograph?Read More »

Fennel Arachnid

Tying up the flowering fennel stalks in the garden recently, I suddenly became aware of this dark blob near my face. Close inspection revealed it to look like a spider, very well camouflaged in the fennel fronds, its long spindly legs a similar thickness to the fennel foliage.

The back end of the summer seems to be the season for spiders – the more you see the more you notice. I’m not really into arachnid identification, but the very long legs suggest this is a harvestman?

And if its a harvestman, it’s not a spider, but another sort of arachnid called opiliones. These are apparently sometimes colloquially referred to as ‘daddy longlegs’, but for me ‘daddy longlegs’ is the large type of crane fly, frequently seen flying around at a similar time of the year, often getting into our house.

Here’s a more detailed pic in case anyone can enlighten me further.fennel spider 2

Nursery Web Spider

nursery web spider egg sacGranddaughter is a bit paranoid about spiders, usually screaming if one is seen anywhere near her. She was the first to spot this nursery web spider basking in the sun on a patio planter, and was quite intrigued to see the large white ball underneath, and larger than, its cephalothorax (see this wiki on spider anatomy). This white ball is an egg sac, bound in silk.

This spider was about 3/4 inch long. The identification is confirmed by the size, colour, stripe on the abdomen, sunbathing habit, egg sac and front pairs of legs together.

The female carries the eggs until they are almost ready to hatch and then spins them a silk tent.

Perhaps one day the interest will overcome the fear, and granddaughter will come to like those very useful spiders.

Green Orb-Weaver Spider

I was about to brush off a single strand of spider web silk stretching across the drive to the car, when I noticed this attractive, unusually coloured little spider sitting at the car end of the thread. This presented an opportunity to try out the macro facility on my Panasonic TZ80 travel zoom, which I use so little that I can never remember how when an opportunity presents itself.

The sun was highlighting the spider’s unusual yellow-green colouring, and the pictures turned out not too bad, considering the camera was hand held, and there was a breeze moving the web about.

It turns out this is a Green Orb-Weaver Spider, one of the interesting family of orb-weaver spiders.

green orb weaver spiderThis particular spider was only a few millimetres long, so the macro facility has acquitted itself quite well, as you can see in the enlarged image. Note the characteristic red spot on the underside – as it happens it was upside down.