The Spiders in Australia Series #4

My favorite/least favorite thing about these pictures is that it’s kind of like a creepier “Where’s Waldo” when you look for the spiders.

Wolf spider hunting

Wolf spider hunting

We were still in Chillagoe for this post. The main reason we went out to Chillagoe was to see the stars and use an observatory that they had at the place we were staying. I wasn’t kidding when I said it was remote.

The stars were absolutely gorgeous. I was actually able to see the dusting of stars that is the Milky Way. I’ve never seen stars like that before.

We had a bit of a lecture about stars, planets, etc. from a local scientist who showed us how to use the telescopes. He used a laser pointer to draw our attention to certain planets and constellations and had so many random facts about the universe. We thought he was super interesting then, but we found out he was also very knowledgeable about pretty much everything. He’s discovered several species of spiders and ants, and his “pet project” is microbiology. I could have listened to this man talk for days.

When he finished his presentation at the observatory he stuck around and answered questions that everyone had. I didn’t have any questions for him because I was too eager to use a spider finding trick my friend Stephanie taught me. She is a bit of an inspiration for this blog as I would always tell her my stories and she would be upset that they always ended with the spider dying.

 

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Hard to get a good picture while holding a flashlight and a camera

 

The trick is fairly simple. All you need is darkness, the outdoors, and a flashlight. If you hold the flashlight up at eye level and point it at the ground, you can see spider eyes glowing back at you!!!!! Really the rule is to look straight down the flashlight beam, but holding it at eye level just makes it easier. The hardest part was seeing the actual spider once you got to the place where you saw the glowing eyes. They are so well camouflaged that it usually took me a while to spot them. It’s so neat and creepy and I loved it. Stephanie told me about it forever ago and  I immediately decided that it was something I would NEVER  try. I guess I was wrong.

While I was running around the campground finding wolf spiders everywhere, the scientist called out and asked what I was doing. I told him, and he said, “Here, let me help, I have a better flashlight for this.” He then proceeded to find about fifteen spiders, explaining all the while that these ones would be relatively small because the older, larger ones had already come out and gone back to their dens for the night.

My brother had joined the search with his own flashlight at this point, and the scientist told us some stories in addition to all the amazing facts he had stored away. He had stories about police encounters while looking for spiders in the exact way we were doing, he had stories about how people thought he had superhuman eyes because he could tell them where spiders were from really far away… Like I said, he was the most interesting person ever.

After he went home, my brother and I continued to find spiders, all about the same size as the spiders in the above pictures. Once we took some more time to stare at the sky with our mom, we all headed back to our lodge. On the way we still looked for spiders with the flashlights. About halfway there my brother said, “Oh wow, that’s a really big shiny spot over there.” We all went to investigate and found THIS monster.

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My brother spotted this one, and he was HUGE

He was easily three times the size of the biggest spider we had seen so far. I had my brother hold up the flashlight while I took some pictures, and on the last one I accidentally used flash… When the flash went off he came shooting out of his den and scurried away, making all three of us jump back and yell. Since I was crouched I just pushed myself backwards and landed on my butt. It was hilarious.

But it was like the manager said, you find the big ones under rocks. Luckily for me I didn’t have to turn that one over.

 

This picture reminds me of Harry Potter.

 

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