Christmas Spider

Christmas Spider by Paul Amyes on
The Christmas spider, aka jewel spider, (Austracantha minax astrigera) so-called because they are most commonly seen in December and January. York, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM10 Mki with OLYMPUS M.60mm F2.8 Macro paste and Metz 15 MS-1 ringflash. Exposure: aperture priority 1/20 sec, f8 ISO 200 with -1 stop exposure compensation.


Creepy Crawlies

Australia is not for the faint hearted. I always thought that moving to southern Tasmania from Western Australia would reduce the number of creepy crawlies that we’d find in our house. But no, since we’ve been here we’ve seen scorpions, snakes and spiders galore.


Huntsman Spider
The huntsman spider (Delena cancerides) can grow to the size of the palm of your hand and is often found in peoples homes. Olympus EM-10 with 60mm f2.8 macro lens and Metz ring flash.

But since The Lord of the Rings, the Hobbit and the Harry Potter films I’ve become decidedly uncomfortable around spiders, especially the Huntsman spider shown above. They are on the largish side (the size of the palm of my hand) and it is the way they move that tends to puts the willies up me.


Jumping Spider
A male jumping spider (Sandalodes superbus) found on the bonet of my car. Olympus EP-5 with OLYMPUS M.60mm F2.8 Macro lens.

Now the little jumping spiders are admittedly not as bad as the huntsman. For one thing they are a lot smaller, less than 1cm long, and while hairy and their tendency to stare right at you can be off putting,  you can in the right frame of mind think of them as cute. The fact that they don’t tend to come into the house also helps.


Are You Looking At Me
Are You Looking At Me? A male jumping spider (Sandalodes superbus) found in my garden. Olympus EP5 with Olympus 60mm f2.8 macro lens.

The Enamelled Back Spider is is almost jewel like in appearance and although they tend to build webs only 1metre from our front door they know their place and stay outside.


Enamelled Back Spider
A female enamelled back spider (Araneidae Araneus bradleyi). Olympus EM-10 with Olympus 60mm f2.8 macro lens.

My partner does not like spiders at all so I am often dipatched with a rolled up newspaper or slipper to “deal” with them. As I protest and squirm I am often challenged with the phrase “What are you man or mouse?”. Well all I can say is “Pass the cheese!”.

“Will you walk into my parlor?” said the Spider to the Fly

A photograph to illustrate one of the most mis-quoted pieces of poetry.

The Spider and the Fly  (1829)  by Mary Howitt
The Spider and the Fly (1829) by Mary Howitt


“Will you walk into my parlor?” said the Spider to the Fly,
“‘Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlor is up a winding stair,
And I have many curious things to show you when you are there.”
“Oh no, no,” said the Fly, “to ask me is in vain;
For who goes up your winding stair can ne’er come down again.”

“I’m sure you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high;
Will you rest upon my little bed?” said the Spider to the Fly.
“There are pretty curtains drawn around, the sheets are fine and thin;
And if you like to rest awhile, I’ll snugly tuck you in!”
“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “for I’ve often heard it said
They never, never wake again, who sleep upon your bed!”

Said the cunning Spider to the Fly, “Dear friend, what can I do
To prove that warm affection I’ve always felt for you?
I have within my pantry, good store of all that’s nice;
I’m sure you’re very welcome – will you please take a slice?”
“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “kind sir, that cannot be,
I’ve heard what’s in your pantry, and I do not wish to see!”

“Sweet creature,” said the Spider, “you’re witty and you’re wise;
How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes!
I have a little looking-glass upon my parlor shelf;
If you step in one moment, dear, you shall behold yourself.”
“I thank you, gentle sir,” she said, “for what you’re pleased to say;
And bidding good morning now, I’ll call another day.”

The Spider turned him round about, and went into his den,
For well he knew the silly Fly would soon come back again;
So he wove a subtle web in a little corner sly,
And set his table ready to dine upon the Fly.
then he came out to his door again, and merrily did sing,
“Come hither, hither, pretty Fly, with the pearl and silver wing;
Your robes are green and purple, there’s a crest upon your head;
Your eyes are like the diamond bright, but mine are as dull as lead.”

Alas, alas! how very soon this silly little Fly,
Hearing his wily, flattering words, came slowly flitting by;
With buzzing wings she hung aloft, then near and nearer drew, –
Thinking only of her brilliant eyes, and green and purple hue;
Thinking only of her crested head – poor foolish thing! At last,
Up jumped the cunning Spider, and fiercely held her fast.
He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den
Within his little parlor – but she ne’er came out again!

And now, dear little children, who may this story read,
To idle, silly, flattering words, I pray you ne’er heed;
Unto an evil counsellor close heart, and ear, and eye,
And take a lesson from this tale of the Spider and the Fly.

Mary Howitt

Canon EOS550d, Sigma 105mm f2.8 macro, Canon Speedlite 430EX with Stofen Omnibounce. Exposure: Aperture priority, 1/100 s at f/11.0 ISO 800.