Nature's Place

Mother and Children …

A few questions have been answered, regarding what mother would do once the children are born, and what she does to eat – she has lost so much weight in the process apparent in her much reduced rear body.

About 50 tiny Huntsman spiders have hatched so far, with some dead already, and the sac is still looking full so I expect more in the coming days. But so far it has been interesting to observe the behaviour of the much maligned spider. In this case a mother, and she has gone hungry over a period of weeks to ensure the best for her babies, staying to protect them – most of the time – and eating whatever was unfortunate enough to wander her way. I am impressed by her maternal instinct, her devotion to the little ones – though instinctive it may be, is it ever any other way.

While I was watching I noticed she was chewing down on something that has come her way – you can see the stick/leg bits hanging out from under, an opportunity for some nourishment that would keep her going a little while longer – good for the babies prospects.

I tried to give a wider view of the situation, but restricted by the proximity of walls and things while doing my best not to disturb her the shots I got are the best I can do for now. Don’t want to frighten her off so she might not come back. It’s really a matter of intruding as little as possible so nature takes its course.

I also changed the lighting I was using, a modified snoot/diffuser that requires further refinement. Something to match the working distance relative to the magnification required for the shots, some of which are cropped slightly. It all works in the end, when you know the principles involved.

I may post another of this series if significant events occur that I am present for.

For those who wanted to know what happened next.

Mother rules Ok!

Mark Berkery ……. Click any picture to enlarge in a new tab

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33 Responses

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  1. sophiaharcourt said, on 11/06/2012 at 2:20 am

    I love that your images really take us into the life of these creatures to make them less creepy. However I must say I am not sure if I want to visit Australia like I thought I did after seeing some videos and articles. These huntsmen are quite large and don’t mind spending time in your car or home: http://youtu.be/pCO56iyBXtU. I,however, would mind.

    Then are are these things that eat birds?!: http://www.thebuzzmedia.com/giant-australian-spider-caught-on-camera-eating-bird/

    Then I have to ask if you think this was real?: http://youtu.be/MEkAAK_NuBQ. It was supposedly an Australian spider. I am not squeamish in general, I don’t mind snakes, I just don’t like small things crawling on me without permission that have the ability to bite me.

    A month ago I woke up to a wolf spider scampering across my arm. That is the ultimate…intruding on me in my bed, without permission! Bad spider. Okay I must sign off now because I keep “feeling” things crawling on me. You are a brave man considering you have, oh I don’t know (it looks like) a million more huntsmen in your home.

    • Mark said, on 11/06/2012 at 4:54 pm

      Thanks Sophia. It’s true we have some exotic fauna here in Oz but don’t believe everything you see or read. Huntsmen can get very big in the deep bush but are 99% harmless, theirs is the ‘fright’ factor. The bird and spider pic looks like a setup to me. It’s possible the bird died in the web but just as likely it flew into a window and was placed there for impact. That spider is more likely to be the birds dinner. And that idiot with the helmet on? :) That looked like a mature Tarantula to me, many here keep them as pets – beautiful creatures. I doubt they attack the way that one did, 90′ angle to the wall without any fall-off in trajectory, but the clip was so short it just made me suspicious what they were hiding – like the string used to pull the rubber spider from the wall?

      The Wolf spider is a beauty, did you know the mother carries her young around on her abdomen? My place only has its share of spiders and I have only been bitten once in the bush by an unknown, probably something strung across the trail. Anyway, I think like all photographers do when it comes to ‘wild’ life, you are emphasizing the drama. :)

      … best. M

  2. standingoutinmyfield said, on 19/05/2012 at 12:06 am

    Aw, they are so adorable!

    • Mark said, on 19/05/2012 at 2:46 am

      Adorable to an Arachnophile maybe. :)

      They are off in the nature now, taking their chances on surviving – what may come.

  3. Tammie said, on 18/05/2012 at 5:39 am

    amazing photography, phenomenal to have a glimpse of this mama and her gorgeous nest and babes.

    • Mark said, on 19/05/2012 at 2:44 am

      Thanks Tammie. Amazing nature, she hung around as long as she could and I assume took off to hunt …

  4. Godfried said, on 15/05/2012 at 7:03 am

    Nice pictures of a nice spider………..

  5. lylekrahn said, on 14/05/2012 at 5:53 pm

    I’m enjoying the story. Keep us posted.

    • Mark said, on 15/05/2012 at 9:59 pm

      Hello Lyle. Well, it looks like mother has taken off on the rest of her life. It suddenly got colder at nights and I haven’t seen her for two days. I have put some of the young where they may have a chance of survival, a particularly wild area of the garden, and left the rest against the house. Who knows …

  6. Rachel Creager Ireland said, on 13/05/2012 at 2:51 pm

    This is incredible. I’m trying to imagine having a mother with a very hairy face and eight eyes, some of which are as big as my own head. I wonder if she will feed them. I wonder if you will feed her. I wonder how long before they leave the nest. So many questions . . .

  7. writingthroughitall said, on 13/05/2012 at 1:30 am

    Hi Mark. I practice Ahimsa–which basically means “do no harm to another living thing”. Your photography is helping us all to see how alike we are in relationship to other beings and that promotes compassion. A mother is a mother. It breaks my heart to see folks killing indiscriminately–be it spiders or people or fur seals—we are all part of the same web (no pun intended :-) Thank you for your macro work–it is beautiful and educational. Blessings…….Lorri

    • Mark said, on 13/05/2012 at 2:16 am

      Yes Lorri, I understand the practise. I know what you speak of, though I have no experience of ‘religion’ or so-called ‘religious’ practise but the lash of christianity. The priests and nuns were a cruel lot in Ireland but that’s another story – which served it’s purpose. I understand why people have no regard for nature, it’s their evolutionary position and they need it as much as we need otherwise. It’s the course of being, through what is not the truth to know what is. A long and violent road but a necessary one. There is so much wisdom has been written by the masters down the ages, the unknown ones as much as any, that makes our task individual and one of divination – to see the whole without judgment. Not an easy state of being but realisable with perseverance. The onus is on the knower, or the observer.

      It is a pleasure to touch another who resonates at the same or similar octave. All is well and all is as it should be, just let’s do better. :)

      … best. M

  8. katiepede said, on 12/05/2012 at 8:10 pm

    Spiders! :-D xx

  9. Mark said, on 12/05/2012 at 12:09 pm

    Don’t forget. If you have FireFox 11.0 or 12.0 – http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/new/ – both stable versions of FF – and you click a picture it opens in another tab with a dark background, the best built in browser viewing I have seen so far.

  10. instillari said, on 12/05/2012 at 8:39 am

    Your photos are awesome! This is truly an amazing site.

    • Mark said, on 12/05/2012 at 12:04 pm

      Thanks instillari, appreciated. Come again … :)

  11. bentehaarstad said, on 12/05/2012 at 4:34 am

    Well, I might be a little terrified, even if I am not usually so about our docile spiders. But the words and the pictures are of course great!

    • Mark said, on 12/05/2012 at 12:03 pm

      Thanks bentehaarstad, appreciated. But she is only 3.5 inch footspan. :)

  12. suzysomething said, on 12/05/2012 at 4:15 am

    Thank you for giving us an update and some more of your amazing micro-photography! I can attest to maternal instinct,but I didn’t expect it in a creature that has been so much maligned. Good for her…and a happy Mothers’ Day to her as well. Maybe you could “arrange” it for some tasty morsel to wander by her close enough to join her for brunch? ;o)

  13. James said, on 12/05/2012 at 3:51 am

    Really cool Mark – thanks for sharing!

  14. Onibe said, on 12/05/2012 at 3:45 am

    these photos are some of the best in the topic I have seen for a while. Very good work… and more please ;-)

    • Mark said, on 12/05/2012 at 11:59 am

      Thanks Onibe, appreciated. Will be keeping an eye on them for developments.

  15. Kgosi-T said, on 12/05/2012 at 1:53 am

    “…an opportunity for some nourishment that would keep her going a little while longer__”
    ….. this actually reminds of the book Charlotte’s web. Lol.

    Do you know why they die though…?

    • Mark said, on 12/05/2012 at 11:58 am

      No idea K. I suspect there are so many the attrition rate is apparent from go. That sac looks like it could hold a thousand and it is survival of the fittest in nature, with a little luck of course, and maybe even a little unattributable intelligence. But there are all sorts of ways they could have died.

  16. Maggie said, on 12/05/2012 at 1:50 am

    A fascinating set of photos Mark. I look forward to your posts and admire your work!
    Last year on 10 July I found a Crab Spider’s nest with Mother also on guard at all times. I followed the progress until baby spiders eventually emerged on 28 August.

    • Mark said, on 12/05/2012 at 11:55 am

      Thanks Maggie. Nature is not the dumb accident some would have us believe. It’s incredible that anyone would be so …

  17. Laura Conowitch said, on 12/05/2012 at 1:17 am

    I’m one of those who wanted to know what happens next. So I thank you for sharing. Your photography, as always, is such a pleasure to see…even when the subject matter creeps me out!

    • Mark said, on 12/05/2012 at 11:53 am

      Thanks Laura. That creepiness will leave you … one day. :)


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