I thought you may be interested to hear about a most unusual spider I’ve encountered whilst here in Corfu. It belongs to the spider Genus Eresus, and its extremely colourful – it has similar patterning to that of a ladybird, from which it takes its common name. The male spider I photographed today never stopped moving for a second – I think he has the female of the species on his mind!
These spiders are very rare to come across, and even in the UK they are probably one of the rarest spiders of all. They prefer living on south-facing hillside slopes, such as the one behind where I am staying. Females construct a silk-lined burrow then wait for the males to approach. At this time of year, the males, like the one pictured, are actively searching for females, which are velvety black and much larger. Unfortunately for this particular male, when he finds a female and mates with her it will be the last thing he ever does – as with many spiders, the female, who in this instance will see his red coloration, then kills the male on the spot.
One thing I did notice when photographing this spider was that he seemed very aware of everything around him – he had excellent eyesight and seemed to be thinking of where to go before doing so. His behaviour and intelligence enthralled me. When feeling threatened he also dipped his head and raised his bright body up as a defence strategy, similar behaviour to that of some frogs I’ve seen. These spiders, which eat beetles and millipedes, appear to have pretty decent sized jaws (something I only saw in scary detail when photographing the male after filming the video below!) Anyhow, he didn’t bite me, and I very much hope he finds his female – and that she then turns out to be colourblind! 🙂
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