And now, some arachnids

Arachnids (you know, spiders and mites and things) never had much of a presence in my photo galleries.  While I could chalk their absence up to an obsessive focus on formicids, the reality is that I'm mildly arachnophobic.  Photographing spiders makes me squirm, so I don't do it very often.

Oddly, it really is just spiders.  I don't have any trouble with opilionids, mites, or even scorpions. And it isn't all spiders, either. I'm rather fond of salticids. But there's something about the form of some spiders that touches off a deeply instinctual revulsion. Embarrassing for an entomologist, but there it is.

Anyway.  The last seven years of photographing nature has brought a reluctant accumulation of arachnid photos, and I've finally collected enough to put them in their own gallery:

Arachnid photos at

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Hi Alex,

Nice gallery of arachnids you put up. I'm loving the velvet mites, they're great!

Technically theres nothing to be embarressed about as an entomologist. Though I'm not too happy to admit that the big hairy ones can give me the jeepers too, especially when they suddenly dart off.

I'm looking forward to seeing some more arachnid photos from you, though preferably sooner than another 7 years :D


Great album!

It's amazing to see the Euryopis spider feeding on an ant when it's hardly bigger than its prey's head! As they kill with a bite to the leg, they must have very specialized venom. Ants are tough customers, and the spiders only get 13% of their meal.

The instinctiveness of arachnophobia is debatable, but what's not debatable is that I suffered from it too. Then I saw Steve Irwin handling spiders, and I thought "If that jackass can do it, so can I." I pinned and grabbed the next huntsman I saw, and I haven't had a problem since.

I came here via Boing Boing because I LOVE insect photography and have been searching for an useful blog about insects. I am loving your blog and enjoying your photos. You got yourself a new follower :-]

They're spectacular images, Alex. (Though I've come to expect that from your photography.) The widow with her web built above the ant nest entrance really captivated me--as in: Clever girl! And I did giggle at the idea of you being a wee bit arachnophobic, though in your defense that's a majority position.

I'm not so sure about the instinctiveness of phobias, either. I've never had any of the "majority opinion" phobias of arachnophobia and ophidiophobia (snakes).

But when I was a kid, I went through an enduring phase of fear and disgust at the site of earthworms. It stemmed from a nightmare I had at a tender age about a giant earthworm that completely filled the yard around my house and had all exits to the house blocked. I finally grew and/or talked myself out of this phobia, but it took till adulthood - actually, dissections in zoology lab - fully to do so.

All nice pictures, as I'd expect, but I really like the nearly white wolf spider with Odontomachus male!

I completely understand your aversion to arachnids, right down to your tolerance of the salticids. The only exception would be that I also have no trouble with tarantulas (I was holding one in my lab yesterday, as a matter of fact). But those nasty, long-legged Pholcus in my basement? *shudder*

Nice photos, creepy subject matter nonetheless.

I suffered a fear of spiders as a kid, but I love arachnids now (although I still can't get myself to hold a tarantula).

The photograph you've shown repesents my favorite of all arachnids - the sun/wind/sand scorpions. I've caught a few of these during my jaunts and kept them as pets; they are fearsome, ruthless predators that attack their prey with a viciousness. Feeding time is always a treat, watching those giant chelicerae robotically moving up and down as they macerate their prey - how delightfully morbid!

I find it interesting how prevalent an alleged fear of arachnids seems to be. I always try to respect arthropods and always feel a bit put out when one bites, stings, or urticates me (somewhere between 'how could I be so dumb' and 'how dare they!'). But fear? Well, maybe a few times like bouncing off a Nephila web on a morning run, or having a huntsman the size of a saucer fall off my visor into my lap while driving, or going to light the morning stove on a Death Valley camping trip and having a solfugid jump out of the match box. I guess those times there may have been something more primeval than just being startled.

Some people seem to think it more the hairy than the spider that is at the root of the phobia. Since I like the sun spider and love the elephant mite the best, though, I guess I either don't share the fear or am overcompensating.

Anyway, great pictures and this makes up some for the disappointing ant ecology book (should have taken your disclaimer to heart - but I bet the pictures are great).

I think it's the way they move that freaks me out. Because jumping spiders and tarantulas move differently from their stiletto-legged cousins, I am less likely to run screaming from them.