Spider Spotting – Carole Gorby

Ever wondered what sort of 8-legged creatures you have in your garden?  {apart from temporarily-cojoined pairs of 4-legged animals perpetuating their species?}

It’s easy to find well-hidden spiders with a simple piece of equipment – all you need is one torch per person. This trick works best in more rural areas, away from streetlights etc, but I’ve tried it in my own suburban backyard with streetlights and security lights around, and it’s still successful.

Spiders Eyes

Spiders in leaf litter are often beautifully camouflaged, but when you shine a light at them, it reflects back from the retinas at the back of their eyes, which is highly reflective. If you hold the torch up level with your eyes (most important, it has to be at the same level, or you won’t see the reflection properly), and shine it at leaf litter, mulch etc, with a bit of luck, you will see what look like pairs of tiny diamonds and rubies. Some spiders reflect white, and some red.

Pick one pair of ‘jewels’, and slowly walk towards it, making sure that you keep the torch pointing at the same spot. I guarantee that you will be amazed at how tiny the spider is that can shine so brightly, and how beautifully it blends into its surroundings. Kids usually get a great buzz out of this. The only place that you might have some trouble finding spiders if you have resident cats haunting the garden. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy spider-spotting as much as I do.


Carole Gorby

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