Spiders here, spiders there, webs everywhere. You don’t truly appreciate how many spiders there are in the jungle until you go on a nightwalk and see the glimmers of their eye shine everywhere. It’s actually quite distracting and difficult when you’re trying to see other animal eye shine. Though, by the end of my month volunteering I did get a lot better at tuning out the spider eyes and catching the herp eyes.
The best advice I can give to someone new to night walks is that spider eye shine seems to twinkle and almost change color, while mammal and herp eye shine tends to be more solid and a constant color. Additionally, spider eye shine often appears more as a single dot whiles other animals appears as two dots. Also in the beginning go ahead and investigate the suspicious eye shines you see. And pay particular attention to spotting and noting what the eye shine looks like on any herps or mammals your hiking buddies may find.
But back to the spiders! Be warned that there are some really creepy ones around.
This is the tarantula that lives in one of the trees in the clearing. I think she’s pretty cool. And actually they are much more afraid of us than you’d think. If you touch the tree she is in she immediately scuttles back into the hollow. Spiders are very sensitive to vibrations.
Another, super sensitive spider (can you see the ultra-long appendages used to feel vibrations. It is Tail-less Whip Scorpion that I think is actually classified as a spider. It’s huge! Bigger than my hand. And if you want watch it on video where you can see it up close and in action. They tend to hang out in tree buttresses because it’s easy to feel vibrations on them and the walls of each buttress somewhat directs prey to the spider.
During the day you are more aware of spiders because of their webs. Getting spider-web face-hugs is one of the not so fun parts of leading walks. However, when I came back to the states and did a hike I realized that the cool part of breaking through so many webs is that it means that you are the first person to be on a trail in a little while. So while it is not my favorite thing, it’s not bad. And it’s pretty rare for a spider to hang on its web to crawl onto you, more often it just runs up the anchor strands to the nearest tree.
This spider is carrying all of its babies on its back, how sweet. When looking at it with a head lamp on it was actually super pretty. Looks kind of like a disco ball or a multi-faceted diamond because of all the eye shine. Once I realized what was going on I got a little creeped out, but then I just remind myself that the spiders help control mosquito population which is all I need to say go on and make those baby spiders!
Now this is one web that I would absolutely not want to get caught in. A great example of teamwork it is strong, large, and ominously full of tiny spiders. Luckily, partially thanks to the leaves that get caught in it, these webs are relatively easy to spot. Though the spiders do seem to enjoy making their webs on the trail paths. And even when we sacrifice the good of our spider karma to remove them for our jungle comrades they often seem to rebuild bigger and better than before. Those determined buggers!
Sometimes spiders come in pretty colors! Oohh, ahh!
Last, but certainly not least is this guy. His name escapes me for the moment but he is big! I have a few pictures of him because I think he’s pretty and well, he held still long enough for me to get them. Though you have to be careful when taking night photography, one clumsy, shake of the hand to bump into a leaf is enough to send most creatures running for safety. This spider, when he got scared, seemed to either put his (front) hands up to surrender, or do some sort of defensive spider yoga posture (see second picture below). One or the other I decided to have mercy and not take him home, name him Fluffy, and get him a matching set of pink spidey collar, leash, and bow.
And of course there are a few spiders that I didn’t get pictures of. First of all there is one that descends super slow and ominously from the canopy and is quite large. It’s a bit disturbing, but also kind of cool at the same time. The first time I saw one of them I was alone on a night walk while Ian was running back to the lodge to get something for his camera. Being alone only added to the creepiness. Still, I tried to get a picture, but none came out because it kept moving and I wasn’t brave enough to get very close.
But that brings me to a close on my spider extravaganza. Hopefully that didn’t make your skin crawl too much. I promise my next post will feature much more cuddly creatures to make up for it.