Celebrating Charlotte – A Spider Special

Halloween is being celebrated in some parts of the world and creepy spider images are often featured. This gives me a perfect excuse to share pictures  of my much maligned  eight-legged garden friends along with a backyard news update.  Actually, the real reason I am writing a creature post is because my Lamington National Park walk photographs were poor quality and I’d like to revisit the area to improve on them. If you like blood sucking parasites and reading about  lycra man suffering stay tuned for that story.

Before I launch into a little spider love, I’ll share some news of the furry and a feathered kind. Plentiful rain has seen a burst of activity in the garden.

silky-oak-flowers

The silky oaks are flowering again,  attracting flocks of raucous rainbow lorikeets during the day and  squabbling flying foxes at night.   When combined with the possum parties on my roof and the entrepreneurial neighbours’ new poultry venture  these activities make silence elusive.

One morning I heard an odd  squawking  near my front door and on inspection found this  little guy.

currawong-chick

Giving me the evil eye close by were its pied currawong parents. The adventurous chick could hop about and climb up branches so it was best to leave the parents to do their job.

currawong-in-tree

I saw it yesterday and it seems to be thriving on food stolen from my  ancient blind and deaf scruff-bag dog.  I’m not sure this is such a good outcome as the local  currawongs are increasing in population at the expense of many smaller birds. Unlike some species, currawongs have adapted well to suburban life and  will eat the chicks of other birds. Each year double-barred finches nest in my bush lemon tree only to have their plump chicks consumed by currawongs. I have yet to see them successfully produce chicks in five years.

double-barred-finch

I’ve mentioned the shenanigans of my marsupial friends in past posts. Recently mother possum ejected her juvenile offspring from the garage ceiling and here is where it is now snoozing. I wouldn’t mind so much except that its urine is far from fragrant and it uses my car as a landing pad sometimes.

brushtail-possum-Australia

And now after lulling you into a warm and fuzzy state with a furry critter, let’s move on to something with fangs…

spider-on-pot

I will always be thankful to authors like E.B. White for having the imagination to devise tales such as Charlotte’s Web. Children’s stories sometimes portray spiders as evil, terrifying creatures.  White’s story turned this around by making a spider a hero and friend, giving children an opportunity to view arachnids with fondness and curiosity.   The use of a spider as a protagonist did cause some concern for White’s Harper & Row publicists as they thought readers would be repulsed. The book’s success proved them wrong though and is a reminder to budding authors out there not to be overly influenced by  “experts.” If you’re interested in why he chose a pig and a spider for his main characters and his response to publicists’ concerns, here is an interesting link.

In Australia, we have a few highly venomous spiders but many are harmless and offer natural pest control. My garden and home are havens for arachnids as I don’t use pesticides. Sometimes there are so many webs across my garden paths I need to call on my ninja training to negotiate them without breaking their silk. It reminds me of movies where thieves  use complicated gymnastic moves to manoeuvre around security laser beams.

spider web

This is particularly the case for the golden orb weaver spider which creates an enormous central web with outer thread barriers on each side.

Golden-orb-weaver-eating

The silk strands from golden orb weavers used to be woven into fabric in some parts of the world. In recent years this method was employed again to create a golden cape made from the silk of over a million golden orb weavers.

Golden-Orb-Weaver-Spider

Australian golden orb weaver spiders are not aggressive or regarded as dangerous to humans. It can be difficult to take pictures of them because they do move away so quickly. I had to slowly move my hand to this position to show you a size comparison not because she’d bite me but because she’d scurry away. Being distracted and a little blind I’ve walked through many golden orb weavers’ webs on walks and never been bitten.  Ticks, mosquitoes and sandflies have feasted on me though. Look carefully and you may see the much smaller male spider. Currently there are four male spiders living in this one’s web.

Golden-orb-weaver-Australia

A quick count one morning found over thirty moulted exoskeletons of huntsmen spiders hanging in my garden  so I know they must be hiding somewhere. Here are three lovely specimens.

spider-exoskeletons

 Daddy-long-legs spiders such as in the picture below inhabit my eaves

daddy-long-legs-spider

I also see many species of tiny jumping and crab spiders as well as the common garden orb weaver.

jumping spider

spider-web

To add to the Halloween mood here are a few more critters, many of which  feature on an arachnid’s menu.

Without the presence of pesticides, ant species also flourish in my garden. Rattle ants make homes in bushes, trees and empty bird feeders. As soon as I disturb them they swarm out, vibrate their bodies and bite.

rattle-ants-in-birdfeeder

The second lot of large ants completely ignore me. They are wonderful excavators. UPDATE: Thanks to Rob for identifying these  as  banded sugar ants (moon ants). Here’s a link to his nature blog post about this species.

garden-ants

To finish up I  have exciting news. Well, perhaps not exciting for you but it has me grinning like an idiot. I have a new camera. Some of you may remember my family offered to give me a new camera as a combined birthday and Christmas present last year. It’s taken me this long to choose a Powershot Canon SX60 HS. After a quick play I was delighted with its zoom and tracking feature for birds.  Thanks to my generous family for the gift and also to a kind friend who gave me excellent camera advice and support this week. Now I just have to read and understand the 200 page manual and learn to drive it! Not an easy task for a technophobe.

And since some of you are celebrating Halloween and are enjoying flights into fantasy, here’s a quote for you from J.K. Rowling about the benefits of a little imagination.  Enjoy…

Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared.  – J.K.Rowling

94 thoughts on “Celebrating Charlotte – A Spider Special

  1. Oh Jane, this is the best Halloween post yet! Everyone seems to be posting about the goulish season, and this is my favorite! Most of the spiders you featured are also spiders we see here in the US. Although your Daddy Long Legs are a bit different than ours. We do not use pesticides either, and have learned to appreciate spiders in our environment. Now, if I happen upon a Black Widow or a Brown Recluse, I do battle. Years ago I had a dog that suffered bites from the Recluse at various times and each bite made him deathly ill, and left a giant hole in his hide! Black Widows can make a person might sick too. I am familiar with most of the spiders in our area and I always take time to observe and photograph them. They’re a marvel to watch spin a web! I have been watching a Green Lynx Spider for weeks now. She first attached her silken sac of eggs under the leaves of a basil plant at the edge of my herb garden. She guarded her “flat looking” egg sac and now I see the spiderlings have hatched and the female is still guarding them. There is no web, and I understand they pounce on their prey using their camouflaged bodies to hide in waiting. I talk to her every day, thanking her for sharing her incredible mystery of life with me. I’ll miss her come the cold weather. I know we can’t be the only weirdos out there that are fascinated with spiders!

    I’m happy you have a great camera. I hope you’ll share more about it as you use it more. I really love my big zoom lens but the whole rig is a lot to carry to the river. I am a big Canon lover so I’m anxious to hear about your new purchase! 🙂

    • Hi Lori,
      Thanks for your extremely positive response to my spidery offering! 🙂
      Loved reading that you talk to and appreciate your spider friends. The Green Lynx Spider sounds very interesting. I will have to keep looking out for similar species here.
      Yes, I’ve heard you have something called a Daddy Long Legs there that is actually not a true spider. I’ve read that ours have quite a strong venom but because they have such tiny fangs they are harmless to us.
      Our funnel web spiders and red back spiders are the most well known dangerous species here. Redbacks tend to like people places such as sheds, pot plants and houses. I haven’t seen any here in six years which seems unusual. On farms we lived on they were very common. Funnel Web species are highly venomous but I’ve not lived in places where they’ve been in high numbers. There are others that can make people feel quite ill and some bites are associated with necrotising wounds. I’ve never been bitten by a spider but I am careful.
      I love to check out my giant orb weavers’ webs most days.
      I bought the camera this week and only spent about an hour testing out the zoom in a park. It’s amazing for long distance bird shots. The video is supposed to be great so I may share some short ones from my walks. It’s going to be a steep learning curve for me I think to make manual adjustments. It will be set on auto for quite some time. Heheh
      Thanks Lori for your encouraging comments and also for sharing your own wonderful thoughts about spiders. They really are an important part of our natural environment. I’m happy that we share a love for creatures. Have a great weekend, my friend. 🙂

      • You’re correct that the creature we call daddy longlegs in the United States isn’t a spider, but an arthropod in the order Opiliones. As Wikipedia points out, daddy longlegs “can be easily distinguished from even long-legged spiders by their fused body regions and single pair of eyes in the middle of their cephalothorax (spiders have an ‘abdomen’ that is separated from the cephalothorax by a constriction, as well as three to four pairs of eyes, usually around the margins of their cephalothorax).” Daddy longlegs can often be found clumping together in a large mass:

        https://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/not-a-tuft-of-hair/

        You might not have made the connection, but the green lynx that Littlesundog mentioned observing is the spider that I featured a few weeks ago on goldenrod:

        https://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com/2015/10/08/green-and-yellow-kill-a-fellow/

        • Thanks for the information about your Daddy longlegs and also the link to the remarkable photo! Perhaps I should have clarified in my post that ours is different from ones overseas. I’ve become a little lazy with scientific names lately. Your comment has certainly covered the topic now though. I hope other readers find it.
          Thanks also for reminding me about your green lynx spider! I have a terrible memory for name details these days but as soon as I looked at it I remembered it. In fact, I think I may have shared a picture of a green lynx in my garden or from a walk on an old post. This aging business can be a bit frustrating, Steve. 😉 I remember images more than labels these days. Thanks as always for your valuable contributions. I’m going offline now to help my son choose a sofa from Ikea. A different kind of adventure. 🙂

    • Hi Curt,
      You did make me laugh. Heheh. Would you believe I actually feel creepy about clowns too? Not spiders though for some reason. Maybe “Charlotte’s Web” had a lasting impact on me. It sounds like you may have watched a certain Stephen King movie? 🙂
      Thanks for reading and commenting, Curt, even though you’re not fond of spiders! Enjoy your day. 🙂

  2. Fabulous post for Halloween. I’m not able to let spiders crawl on me, but I appreciate their contribution. I sometimes dream about spiders, and when I researched this I found that they represent writing creativity, especially if they are in a web or spinning one.

    • Thanks very much. I’m glad you enjoyed it. The only spiders I feel comfortable crawling on me are the small harmless garden spiders and daddy-long-legs spiders. I am happy to watch the others from a distance. 🙂 That’s interesting information about spider dreams. I will sometimes dream there is a huge one on the bed or my wall. It often feels very real and I have to turn the light on to check even though I’ve been having the same kind of dream most of my life. Thanks for reading and adding your thoughts. 🙂

  3. Oh, yeah, that spider clown….seriously creeped me out and still today, when I think about it! But spiders, I love! This is a wonderful post, Jane! I’m tickled that you harbor spiders in your garden. I do too. In fact, there is a little tame one I keep in my houseplants to guard against mites and midges. Just yesterday I was washing away the summer’s webs from my windows, preparatory to closing the storm windows. This summer one of my windows boasted the biggest, fattest orb-spider I have ever seen. I have to admit, she scared me a little but I was delighted she was there. 🙂
    That golden cape is astonishing. I never knew something like that existed.
    Thanks for the great post 🙂

    • Thanks, Melissa! Yes, I actually saw that Stephen King movie too. It left me freaked out by clowns but not spiders. Charlotte’s Web has stayed with me my whole life I think! 🙂
      I love that you enjoy your own spider house and yard guests. I’ve noticed quite a few spiders in my pot plants on the verandah. They do a great job of protecting the plants from insect attack.
      Orb weavers can be a little intimidating when you come across them unexpectedly. They can grow so big!
      The golden cape is amazing isn’t it! I couldn’t quite believe the pictures really.
      Thanks for sharing your own enjoyment and appreciation of these much maligned creatures. Have a lovely week. 🙂

  4. Well, this certainly got me in the Halloween mood! I’ll be all ready for the little hobgoblins come begging for candy. GREAT news about the new camera. Enjoy and have fun!

    • Thanks, Gunta. Glad to be of help in preparing you for the hordes! It’s not such a big event in Australia and I never have kids at my doorstep…perhaps my spider webs scare them off! The shops are certainly full of Halloween merchandise though. Yes, I’m very excited about the new camera. Now to learn how to use it properly. Have a great Sunday! 🙂

    • Thanks very much, John! I’m looking forward to testing out what the camera can do. It may take me a little while though! Have a beautiful Sunday. 🙂

    • Thanks very much, Tom! I’m glad you enjoyed the pics. These were mainly taken with an old camera. I hope to take better ones with my new purchase. I really enjoy watching spiders although I must admit I was a little more concerned when my kids were little and adventurous as we have a few highly venomous ones. I allowed them to have a terrarium with a pet spider though and tried to teach them as much as I could about them. Their father was an entomologist so insects and spiders often came up in conversation.
      Wow, the spiders in amber sound very special! Thanks for reading and expressing your shared enthusiasm. 🙂

  5. What a collection of creepy crawlies, not my favourite part of the animal kingdom but luckily we are all different! The new camera sounds extra special, enjoy using it despite the horrors of the manual.

    • Thanks, Susan. Considering your unease about spiders, I appreciate that you still read and commented on this post. I do appreciate that they are not everyone’s cup of tea. I have my favourite creatures too and some I prefer not to spend time with. Ticks really give me the creeps! Yes, I will enjoy the new camera and try not to be intimidated by the manual. Some extra brain cells would help me. Have a lovely weekend. 🙂

  6. Good luck with the new camera. Some of those spiders are absolutely huge – I’m not sure I’d want to be too close them in real life. I have a motely collection of much smaller spiders in my bin shed. One of them I have since learnt is a false black widow – nasty bite but won’t kill you.

    It’s always interesting visiting that shed, as more spiders seem to appear out of no where, whilst others have left their corpses behind in an unseen spider fight.

    Rather bizarrely I tend to wonder about their quality of life. They don’t seem to move around much – at least when I’m there – I’m guessing they just hang around until some unfortunate creature hits their web. Not exactly an exciting existence! Presumably much of their lives are spent asleep or maybe just pondering the world!

    • Thanks very much, Rob. It will take me some time to take advantage of all the features of the camera but after my quick play with the zoom I’m delighted with it.
      Your shed sounds like a fascinating place to visit! I am a little more nervous about dark building corners as our venomous red back spiders do like to take up residence there. They have a painful bite and can make people quite ill. Venomous snakes concern me the most on walks though. We have quite a few here and they also live in my garden.
      I’d never thought much about the quality of life of a spider until your comments. I wonder what it would be like to be an orb-weaver. Perhaps the life of a huntsman spider would suit you more as they travel about much a lot. 🙂
      Thanks for reading and sharing your own experiences and thoughts, Rob. I hope you manage to get out and have some adventures in the next few months despite the cold. Good luck with the blog competition as well! 🙂

  7. I suspect the portion of the population that is arachnophopic exceeds the portion that is technophobic. After all, just about every kid grows up now with smartphones and the like, and many are so addicted they can’t stand to be off their devices for more than a few minutes. I doubt there are many kids who can’t stand to be away from a spider for more than a short while.

    • Hi Steve,
      You make a good point about the prevalence of technophobia and arachnophobia these days. It will be interesting to see where the addiction to smartphones and the like takes the younger generation. One of the reasons I’ve delayed updating my old phone is because I wonder if I will become a slave to checking it. At the moment I can only receive texts and phone calls but not use the Internet. Sometimes I think back to the days when we didn’t have mobile phones. What a different world it was then! Once we left the house we were disconnected from technology and couldn’t be contacted. How life has changed! Thanks for your interesting contribution as usual. 🙂

  8. I like the thought of you ducking and weaving between the spiders’ webs with flowing and graceful ninja movements. I am always grateful for the unexciting lack of poisonous wild life round here.

  9. Great post Jane! Your photos of the spiders, webs, exoskeletons, ants, and other insects were very good and having your hand there as a size comparison was really useful. I am always pleased to see spiders in the garden and will tolerate some in the house. My youngest daughter is frightened of house spiders so I have to catch them and take them outside. Spiders are useful in the house, getting rid of mosquitoes and other really unpleasant creatures. I like our little zebra spiders which hunt their prey and have no webs. I think the only spider I don’t like is the daddy long-legs spider which has arrived from elsewhere and eats our own native spiders. Congratulations on getting your new camera! I hope you enjoy using it.

    • Thanks very much, Clare! Nearly all of these pictures were taken with my old camera as I am still learning what to do with the new one. Spiders are certainly not for everyone and I can understand your daughter’s fear. I will have to google zebra spiders to see if we have them here. The ones that don’t have webs are probably tidier house guests to have! 🙂
      I wonder if your daddy long-legs spider is the same as what we have here. I’ve been told ours actually eats and helps control other spiders. I can believe that as where I have daddy long-legs on the outside of the house, I don’t see other species. It’s a shame your import is eating the natives. I wonder how that will impact later down the track.
      Thanks for reading and adding your own thoughts and experiences, Clare. It is always lovely to receive your contribution. Have a lovely day. 🙂

  10. You did it well with all these spiders and their spider web, Jane 🙂 It is very fine ornaments on a Halloween.
    I’m not afraid of spiders, and they are allowed to stay under my sofa, as long as I don’t get caught. The probability is biggest today, on Halloween 🙂 🙂 …but I will not pass the sofa before tomorrow so I should be safe!!!
    Happy Halloween to you,
    Hanna

    • Thanks, Hanna! I’m pleased for you that you are not afraid of spiders. I do hope you don’t get caught today on Halloween. Yes, avoid that sofa today..haha. 😀
      Thanks for reading and commenting. I hope you have a fun Halloween. Keep sharing your beautiful pictures and reflections of your walks. 🙂

  11. The Canon manuals are the pits, they may get around to telling you how to change a setting, but not why you would want to. If you can find the videos put out by the Canon digital learning center, you’d be better off, but Canon makes them difficult to find. You’d think that they’d have a web page that lists all of them for a particular model of camera, but they don’t. Good luck and happy shooting with the new camera though, I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it quickly.

    Now then, great photos of the spiders! I try to avoid disturbing spiders while outdoors, but I ‘m sorry, I won’t tolerate them indoors. 😉

    The double-barred finch is such a pretty bird, is seems a shame that it has trouble reproducing due to predation by another species of bird. But, that’s nature’s way at times.

    The possum is kind of cute too, but I don’t think that I’d want them living in my garage either.

    • Hi Jerry,
      Ah yes, I do remember your words about some camera manuals on your blog! Now I’m experiencing it for myself. I remembered your advice in the past about online videos and last night was googling them. There are a lot of photographers out there who share videos of how they use this camera for birding or other activities (great moon shots!) I didn’t notice any Canon learning videos in my search so they must be a bit hidden. Now that you’ve mentioned it, I will specifically search for them. Your words make me feel better about my difficulty with the manual.
      Indoor spiders aren’t for everyone that’s for sure and some people are allergic to the webs so there are good reasons for some to keep the house free of them. I allow cobwebs on my eves but keep the inside of the house clear of them. I do have some lovely big huntsmen that crawl around at night though… 😉
      Possums are cute. Not like your opossums. This one is leaving a bit of a mess in my garage. I need a powerful owl to come by and eat it for dinner. 🙂
      Thanks for your advice about cameras. I hope I will get the hang of it soon. The zoom is certainly so much better than the old camera. I wanted it for better bird shots.
      Have a good week, Jerry. Happy snapping. 🙂

  12. Fab spider pics Jane and congratulations on the camera! I’m sure it will change your life. I was reading about backyard spiders the other day in an article by Densey Clyne, who used to write a column on suburban nature in the Sydney Morning Herald (I think you would like her articles). She was writing about wolf spiders which I had never heard of before – they cart their eggs around with them like a white basketball, and when they hatch apparently they ride around on the mother. That very day I found myself looking at a wolf spider with her egg bundle that very day! I remember the orb spiders of Brisbane very well. There are plenty of them here but I recall walking around the streets of Greenslopes and bouncing off the huge tough webs that stretched across the pavement. Very impressive! Thanks again. Good luck with the new camera…

    • Hi,
      I remember Densey Clyne being on TV years ago and enjoyed her enthusiasm! I don’t read the papers often but will try to google her and see what articles come up. Wow, wolf spider mums and babies sound interesting. I will have to keep my eyes peeled for them. It’s funny how often we read or hear something new and then actually experience or see that thing shortly afterwards. It happens to me a lot with nature topics. Sometimes I wonder if I am just not noticing these things about until it’s brought to my attention.
      Golden Orb Weaver webs are incredibly strong. I can see why people were able to use them to weave fabric. I think they are remarkable.
      Thanks for reading and adding your own thoughts and experiences. One of the great things about blogging is finding out other people’s opinions and observations about a topic. I love it. Have a great week and I look forward to another entertaining post from you soon. 🙂

      • Wow, I didn’t know these webs were used for weaving. Now that’s a delicate job. Brewing up the next post! I’ll be looking out for your next batch of fab photos with your new camera!

      • You are right that the webs of Nephila (Golden Orb Weavers) are amazingly strong! In fact, they are strong enough to be used as fishing nets! In New Guinea, in times past, some tribes would make a big loop out of a long, flexible branch, then coax a Nephila to use it as a frame, weaving her golden web across the opening. Then they’d remove the spider and use the whole thing as a net to catch fish! Isn’t that amazing?

        • It is amazing, that’s for sure! I had read that they used the webs as nets but not exactly how they went about doing it, so thank you very much for giving me those very interesting details. Given the name of your twitter account, I guess you are a big fan of spiders! Thanks very much for reading and commenting. Lovely to have your input. Have a great day. 🙂

  13. And I thought the spiders busy building up a net in my path were large! I try not to be a wimp when it comes to eight-legged insects, or insects in any case, but I’m afraid I can’t. Moths, spiders and – oddly enough – butterflies still give me the chills…

    However, it seems you have quite an ecosystem in your backyard, Jane! Definitely different from many people’s idea of garden but probably a lot more interesting to sit down and watch.

    Fabrizio

    • Hi Fabrizio,
      Spiders are not for everyone that’s for sure. We all have fears of some kind. I can’t stand ticks! They really give me the creeps. I wonder why butterflies give you the chills though. That’s an interesting one! Perhaps you had a scary experience once when you were very young.
      My garden is definitely not to everyone’s tastes! I love all kinds of gardens and would like to see a few more flowers about. I haven’t had the time to do much in it these days though and the mosquitoes are quite bad which doesn’t help much. I do enjoy the interesting goings on though. Thanks for reading and also for sharing your own thoughts. It’s great to hear from you. 🙂

  14. Those currawongs seem a lot like the magpies that we have here. They are terrible for the other small birds, and I do a bit of crowd control on them to preserve all of my other little bird friends.

    I enjoyed seeing your spiders. I really like the golden orb weavers. I wish we had them here. I often bring spiders home with me, especially in the fall, and set them up in an old garage where they have lots of other insects to eat and are pretty well protected for the winter.

    • Hi Terry,
      Interesting about the magpies you have being like our currawongs. I love the sounds of our currawongs however I do get a bit disappointed to see the smaller bird chicks getting eaten each year. They put so much time and effort into raising the young only to have the currawongs feast on them when they are a good size. That’s part of life though, I guess.
      How lovely that you bring spiders home with you in the fall and they have somewhere to eat and be protected. Our golden orb weavers are pretty special. I admire their beautiful webs and also the magnificent size of the females. The fact that they aren’t aggressive and not dangerous adds to their appeal of course.
      Thanks very much for reading and commenting. It’s great to read about your own views on spiders. It seems there are more people who enjoy spiders than I thought. Have a lovely week. 🙂

  15. I like the way you lured us in with the soft and cuddly baby birds and possums… only to then come face to face with spider photos. 🙂 Actually I quite like spiders, well maybe appreciate is a better word for it. I don’t like their nips – never felt until I’m well finished with the gardening. But I think their webs are absolutely amazing creations. How do they do it? I’m sure there’s a scientific answer to that question but I’m happy to remain uninformed on that matter and let my imagination roam in the realm of amazement 🙂 This definitely was the best Halloween-themed post Jane!

    • Thanks very much, Gail. 🙂 It’s been lovely to find out how many other people appreciate spiders too. I agree, their webs are amazing! Your comment reminded me of a quote from the book Charlotte’s Web:
      “Do you understand how there could be any writing in a spider’s web?”
      “Oh, no,” said Dr. Dorian. “I don’t understand it. But for that matter I don’t understand how a spider learned to spin a web in the first place. When the words appeared, everyone said they were a miracle. But nobody pointed out that the web itself is a miracle.”
      “What’s miraculous about a spider’s web?” said Mrs. Arable. “I don’t see why you say a web is a miracle-it’s just a web.”
      “Ever try to spin one?” asked Dr. Dorian.” ― E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web
      Thanks for reading and adding your own interesting thoughts about a creature that I am fond of. I’m actually surprised by the positive response a spider post has received! Happy pedalling. 🙂

  16. I love spiders (aside from the venomous ones–not my favorites). That love may arise from E.B. White’s influence, given that Charlotte’s Web remains one of my all time favorite books. Thanks for the link to his elegantly snarky reply to his publisher. I especially enjoyed his description of the “eerie quality” of keeping a pig, knowing that he would eat it in the fall. Amazing writer and interesting man. He chose to live in rural Maine–just down the coast from where we settled. Wise.

    • I only knew E.B.White as the author of Charlotte’s Web until more recently when I picked up a copy of “Elements of Style” which he revised. I found the link about his interests and his interactions with publishers entertaining too. He was indeed a great writer. Charlotte’s Web was one of those childhood books that had a large impact on me. While writing this post I realised just how much. Quite amazing to think how an author can influence a person’s view of the world, including spiders in that way. The power of the pen. I’m glad you enjoy spiders too. Thanks very much for reading and adding your own thoughts. It’s very interesting to me to read the diversity of opinion about topics of blog topics. I learn a great deal from people’s comments. Have a wonderful week. 🙂

      • The Elements of Style is the only book on writing that I’ve ever owned! You might try E.B. White’s essays some time. I pick them up from time to time, but enjoy Charlotte the best. The books I read as a child influenced me more than any I have read as an adult. I’m not sure if it’s because I was more impressionable then or just because they were so good.

  17. Love this post! I find spiders fascinating even though my knowledge of them is quite limited, I must say. We often get them on our balcony garden. Their webs are exquisite and I hate ruining them so watering plants sometimes requires some serious acrobatic skills to get around them.
    Good luck with the new camera!

    • Thanks very much! 🙂 I really wasn’t sure how welcome a post about spiders would be and I’m quite surprised by the response. It seems there are many people out there who appreciate them too. I also hate disturbing the webs but it can certainly be a little tricky sometimes to avoid them.
      There may be a video or two in future posts if I can learn to drive this camera properly.
      Looking forward to reading more of your beautiful outdoor posts. 🙂

  18. That orb weaver cape is really quite something, isn’t it Jane? Even so, I can feel my skin crawl if I think too much about the ladies who made the silk to begin with…
    Have fun with the new camera! How very exiting! : )

    • Yeah, that cape is certainly impressive. I’m not sure how I feel about them taking advantage of the spiders’ silk. I hope they were able to quickly replenish their supply to catch food again. Heheh…yeah, spiders are not everyone’s cup of tea that’s for sure. Ticks are my nemesis…urgh!
      Thanks for commenting, Dayna. I hope to get out and use this camera soon. Lots of thunderstorm action happening up this way lately. I have to plan carefully where I go. It’s getting humid and hot and I saw my first brown snake of the season on my verandah today. My walk at Binna Burra a couple of weeks ago involved paralysis ticks. South is looking very appealing… 😉

  19. Hi Jane,
    Sam was scrolling through your post and telling me about it, she suddenly went very quiet…..she’s not a big spider fan! Down here we get quite a few huntsmans, they seem to come out before rain, my job is to pick them up gently and transport them out of the house to safety as they walk up my arm. Funny you should mention ticks, I’ve only ever been bitten three times in my life and two of those occasions were on Mt Barney, I was wondering if I was unlucky or if they are more prevalent up there, I think you’ve answered my question!
    Good luck learning to drive the new camera I look forward to seeing the results.
    Cheers Kevin

    • Hi Kevin,
      Oh dear, please apologise to Sam for me if my pictures gave her the creeps! If there was a giant tick on the screen I’d be going quiet too. Speaking of ticks, I think it really depends on where you go and at what time of year and the weather conditions. I went up to Mt Mitchell (near Cunningham’s Gap) the day after light rain in the warmer months and had paralysis tick larvae on my clothes regularly. The path was very overgrown though and my daughter was brushing past vegetation first. I suspect this got them active and ready to grab onto my clothes as I brushed past. That walk inspired my very first blog post! I lost count of the number I had to get off me on that walk. Of course I had forgotten to spray repellent on me at the start. On the way to Binna Burra my walking partner and I stopped at a rest area by Canungra Creek and he lay down on the grass briefly…not a good idea in spring. I’ll write about it in a post but basically he had a very itchy head that day! So if you use repellent on your legs and shoes, avoid the wet, warm weather and overgrown paths and don’t rest against vegetation you can avoid them. Mid-winter I have never had problems.
      I’m not afraid of huntsmen being in the house, but I am not keen on them crawling over my skin! Well done to you for experiencing that “pleasure”! Haha. I’m ok with small garden spiders like jumping spiders on me though. Huntsmen are a little too big and hairy for me to play with. 🙂
      Thanks for reading and commenting, Kevin. I hope to meet you and Sam next winter, or earlier if I make a trip to Melbourne. Best wishes. 🙂

  20. Hey Jane, thanks for a most enjoyable post. And you already take such fabulous photos I am waiting with baited breath to see what you will produce with your new camera. I have a Canon powershot but I’m a very lazy photographer, so I’m sure my pics are not a great reflection of what it can do! (And I’ve never made it through the whole manual). We were just up at Lamington NP last weekend and met a new species for me : Morticia (not her real name) the tree funnell web. Check her out! The guides at Binna Burra reckon this particular spider is over 20 years old. Amazing. Cheers, Paula

    • Hi Paula,
      I’m glad I checked my spam folder as for some reason your comment went in there! I hope I haven’t deleted any other real comments in the past. I’ve been up to Binna Burra twice in the last couple of weeks. Both times I had to cut the walks short for various reasons that I will go into when I eventually write a post. I love it up there. The bird sounds and sightings were fantastic. I will have to check out the tree funnel web spider. Morticia sounds interesting. I don’t often see spiders on my walks in rainforests as they tend to be hidden away more than my garden spiders. I am not sure people will notice much of a difference with my photographs for a while, especially in the rainforest post. I need to learn how best to deal with low light conditions. In the past I’ve always had my camera on auto. The Canon Powershot SX60 has a fantastic zoom which is what I’ve been missing with the old one. It will make a big difference with bird identification. As you probably know, I am not very tech savvy, so the camera will take quite a while for me to master! Thanks for your lovely comments, Paula. Best wishes with your beautiful new book! It’s a great idea. 🙂

  21. Another excellent read, Jane. Love the spider images – I also find spiders to be really fascinating creatures. When head-torching in local national parks the eye-shine of tiny wolf-spiders is constant, there are far more spiders around us than I think most people realise, and all are of course an integral part of our biodiversity.

    I think your large ants may be moon ants (or similar) http://ashdown4628.clients.cmdwebsites.com/blog/?p=2157 . If you ever get a chance to get any of the small QM pocket guides, they are tremendous, the ant and spider guides are very good: http://www.shop.qm.qld.gov.au/default/wild-guides/pocket-guides.html You may already have them.

    I hope the new camera is working out well, look forward to seeing some results on your blog.

    Cheers

    • Hi Rob,
      Thanks very much for the ID of the moon ants. I’ve been wondering what they are. They also crawl around my house at night but are such docile creatures that I really don’t mind. I find them in all sorts of places! Even the odd one crawling over me on the lounge chair.
      I’ve been planning night walks in Lamington National Park but lately there have been storms warnings for the evening. Yesterday I was up at Binna Burra and my daughter texted me about a severe thunderstorm with hail headed for the Lamington area so I went home. I’m really looking forward to a night walk experience though.
      Thanks also for the link to QM pocket guides. I hadn’t seen those before. They are a great idea. I only have field guide books for birds.
      Learning to work the camera will be take me a while. My eyesight isn’t great and I will have to get used to finding all the options. It is not until I get home and put photos on the computer that I can see what actually works best. Auto settings are pretty good most of the time but in the rainforest the light is bad and it would help to use a tripod and change the settings. I like taking pictures but the actual technical aspects of changing settings doesn’t come naturally. I will have to write down a little summary of good settings and keep that in my camera bag. All fun learning though! It’s nice to have a new toy.
      Thanks for reading and for your encouragement, Rob. Have a wonderful weekend. 🙂

    • Hi Brittany. They are much bigger on screen of course to add to the creepy factor…heheh. Thanks for reading and commenting despite the heebie jeebies! Have a wonderful weekend, Smiley Woman. 🙂

  22. Oh my Jane – I thought we had an agreement to put our red blinking warning signs for those spider captures!! You almost had be wasting some nice wine here!

    Well..now that my anxiety has calmed down a bit I will compliment you on you lovely captures – are they all taken with the new camera? Anyways, they are great as always (almost a bit too lively for me!!). I have to says your garden is like straight out of an Indiana Jones movie! I am no joking when I am saying I would never put my hand that close to a spider (not even a small one) and I have never seen a spider that big (except for in a glass cage in the pet store….)

    And if I had walked through a golden orb weavers’ web and noticed it on me I would like have freaked out and run off a cliff – so it is probably a good thing I stick to the north:)

    A lovely post as always Jane – after my initial shock I enjoyed it:)

    • Heheh…sorry Inger! I was planning to have a warning for my friends with arachnophobia and then forget about it. Oops. I’m glad you managed to save the wine from spilling! 🙂
      Most of these shots were taken with the old camera I think with perhaps a few from the new camera. I can’t remember now. I had them in the same folder. I had a bit of trouble with the macro on the new one. I’m used to the settings on the old one. I haven’t had much time to test it out yet. My old camera is quite good at macro. The new one is really so I can take decent bird pictures from a distance. We’ll see how I go.
      The female golden orb weaver can get quite big and I have seen much bigger ones than this! They are marvelous aren’t they? 😉
      Yes, my yard is looking decidedly jungle-like at present especially after the latest drenching storms. After living in dry outback conditions I’m still not used to how much everything grows here. It’s amazing!
      Thanks very much for reading and commenting. I’m very impressed considering how much spiders freak you out! Have a wonderful week, Inga. 🙂

  23. Hi Jane, I had to let you know that I couldn’t bring myself to read your post because of all the spider photos that kept jumping out at me. I might have mentioned before that I am a bit of an arachnophobic? I tried to ignore them, but to no avail! My apologies indeed, but I look forward to your next post (spider-photo free?) 🙂 Leah

    • Hi Leah,
      That’s completely ok, Leah. No need to apologise at all. There are things I avoid looking at too, like bloated ticks and injuries involving impalement. 🙂
      I can’t promise there won’t be any spiders in the next two posts but if there are it would only be one photo and not a close-up of the spider’s body. I saw some beautiful dew covered webs on a walk recently and may share them. I’m sure you’ll agree that many webs are quite beautiful even though spiders may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Have a lovely week and thanks for saying “Hi”. 😀

  24. I began reading this post with some trepidation as I am really not a fan of the eight legged creatures! But I actually enjoyed the post! How exciting about your new camera! I am looking for a new more compact camera myself. Does the Cannon powershot you have take good landscape photos?

    • Thanks very much, Amanda. I’m pleased the post didn’t disturb you and you actually enjoyed it! 🙂 I can understand that not everyone feels comfortable around spiders though and wasn’t expecting such a positive reaction.
      I haven’t had much of a chance to test the camera with landscapes. I got it more for the zoom so I could capture a few bird shots. It is excellent for people shots and videos. I will let you know how it goes with landscapes. I have just put a clear UV lens filter on which has helped cut out some glare but I’d like to try a polariser. So often I am walking in the middle of the day when the sun is too bright. I’ve never been great at landscapes. Your blog landscape shots are beautiful, Amanda. I think you’ve already got that working well! 🙂 The compacts are nice and light though. A friend of mine really liked the Panasonic Lumix compacts.
      Anyway, great to hear from you. I expect you’ve been very busy of late. It gets very busy around here at this time of year. 🙂

    • Hi Margaret,
      Sorry for the late response. It seems that the flu season wasn’t finished with me yet and haven’t been online much. I would love to do a post on snakes but I’ve only got pictures of two I’ve seen. Most times I only see the tail end as it’s slithering away. It’s funny that you should mention it as just this morning I saw an eastern brown snake in my garden. It was in the rockery. I went back inside to get the camera but by the time I came out it was gone. I rarely see them on my walks although they must be about. Spiders on the other hand are kind enough to stay put most times. 🙂 Thanks for reading and adding your suggestion. If I can accumulate a few more photos of snakes I will write a post about my legless “friends.” 🙂

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