Sunday, 13 September 2009

Spidery autumn

The garden is full of spiders. Between every shrub or tree, there's a spider's web. And at the centre of these webs are garden spiders of all sizes. I notice an interesting thing - that the smaller and medium sized spiders are entirely OK about a human wandering up to them with a tripod and zooming a long black lens in on them. On the other hand, the largest spiders - the really impressive ones - take immediate fright and leg it back into the cover of the bushes. So the spiders I offer are merely the medium-sized ones. Why do the large ones run off? Are they conditioned to know that their very bulk makes them tasty morsels to birds? Which rather implies a degree of self-consiousness... "I'm big enough to be considered food by that large mammal with that black three-legged thing over there - RUN!"

Another thing of interest is the variations in how neat and symmetrical a spider makes its web. Is the web neat because the spider possesses the neatness gene? Or because the wind wasn't blowing so hard? Is there a evolutionary advantage to spinning neat, symmetrical webs? Above: Spider on the left's a bit of an untidy specimen compared to the one on the right. Biology or environment?

I bring out the 55mm Macro-Nikkor, bounce some sunlight onto the subject with a table mirror, and - what a beast! Worth clicking to see the portrait of a spider, shot from its underside, in its full glory.

I wonder what it's thinking, other than sensing a threat in my (close) presence with macro lens. Do spiders have consciousness as in self-awareness?

1 comment:

Aphelion said...

Nice photos, as always! The fact that the bigger ones are afraid of you reminds me of the female toad and the wren that live in my garden; larger animals run away when I come, but the wren sometimes sits on the fence and squeaks angrily at me when I sit on the terrace, and when I want Mrs Toad to get out of the way I have to push her; even then she usually digs in her legs and sits it out until the human gives up. Perhaps the toad knows that no animal will eat her because of her bitter skin secretions, and maybe the wren knows that most birds of prey won't bother with such a tiny bit of bones and feathers as him...