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Seeing red! :)

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!

Ladybird Spider (c) Andrew Gray

Ladybird Spider (c) Andrew Gray (click on image to see in more detail)

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! 🙂


2 Responses

  1. Of all the species on earth, this has been the one I have wanted to see the most for a long time. And I finally got to see not one, but three, last year on my first trip to Corfu.
    Very few people I have met have ever even heard of them, so nice to see the pictures and video up on your website.

  2. Hi Louise, good to hear from you again and thanks for the comment on the blog – sorry I missed seeing it at the time! A very cool spider, so pleased to hear you found some too and appreciate how rare they are to come across – apparently the ladybird spider in Corfu is different to the one in the UK, or so I hear..

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