Readers’ wildlife photos

June 16, 2023 • 8:15 am

Mark Sturtevant is back with another batch of spider and arthropod photos (“harvestmen” aren’t spiders). His captions and IDs are indented, and  you can click on the photos to enlarge them. Our photo tank is nearly empty, by the way. Sunday may be our last day!

Last summer was a good one for getting some especially nice buggy pictures, although work and being dragged to vacation in urban areas did reduce the volume of pictures that I could gather. But I did my best. This set is all about some early-season spiders.

There was a big marbled orbweaver (Araneus marmoreus) in the garden late in the previous season (you saw pictures of her), and she left an egg sac. So early this summer my wife reported that they had hatched, and here are the bebbies. They would disperse when disturbed, but after a time they would gather together again into a tight little ball of tiny spiders. I love all those little baby bums! 

Here are some focus stacked pictures of jumping spiders, taken with the manual Venus/Laowa 2.5-5X wonder-lens. Jumping spiders are of course very active, so high dozens to over a hundred of pictures were needed to get successful but short stacks. It also helped to use psychology on the subjects, as explained below. 

The first one is a tiny ant-mimicking jumping spider, Myrmarachne formica. Readers may remember a male of this species that I had recently shown which had over-sized chelicerae. The one here is a female. To get her to stay in one area, she was marooned on a leaf that was pinned out in a cup of water. Since she was unwilling to cross the moat, I could zero in on her much more easily. No subjects were harmed in taking these pictures, btw. 

And here is our charismatic bold jumping spider (that is its common name), Phidippus audax. It is useful to think of jumping spiders as being like cats, so here I fashioned a tiny cup out of a leaf and let her explore it. Being cat-like, she had to sit inside the cup, and she even sat still for almost a minute which is an eternity for such spiders! 

Here she is again, but now she’s pausing atop a foam rubber stopper while sizing up the distance between her and the lens (she attempted the leap several times). You can see that one of the front legs had been regenerated. 

Here is a close crop of the previous picture, and this show-cases the incredible quality of this super macro lens. Y’all should click again to embiggen this one! Many hours were needed to clean up most of the artifacts from the focus stack and from the Topaz Sharpen AI program that I’ve also started to use, but the result is a contender for my favorite critter picture. The eye reflections are the diffusers that were used on the twin flash. Those diffusers are now being re-built, as is required since that is one thing that must be regularly fussed over in this hobby.


Next up is an unknown species of wolf spider carrying her egg sac. I did not know that adult wolf spiders could be this small. 

And finally, this is a focus stacked picture of a female harvestman (likely Phallangium opillio). OK, it’s not a true spider, but just look at that weird little face! Male faces are even stranger, but they are super restless. I will do my best to get the picture this summer. 

12 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Remarkable pics, Mark. That cropped pic does indeed clearly demonstrate how amazing that lens is. Though I’m sure it also takes a certain degree of experience and skill regardless of the quality of the lens.

    Your photos are always a pleasure to see.

  2. Yeah, technology really makes an enormous difference – the insight – just fascinating, the detail that gets lost.

    I see really neat spiders a lot, and wish I could just snap a pic – one day.

    Inspiring, is what I’m sayin’ – well done!

  3. Wonderful photos! I love the spiders, especially the jumping spiders, though the young orb weavers are pretty amazing, too. And the harvestman (harvestwoman?) is good enough for an honorary spider to me.

  4. Amazing! My senior thesis was on trilobite eyes. (Yes. They are made of calcite and are preserved as fossils.) So, I always find arthropod eyes interesting, especially the ocelli of spiders.

    1. A couple months ago, I read Fortey’s Trilobite! Eyewitness to Evolution. My favorite chapter was about their eyes. I was blown away…though, of course, some Trilobites were eyeless.

      Sounds like a fun thesis.

  5. After staring endlessly at your amazing jumping spider photos I am beginning to see a cute hairy critter with a large shiny bulbous nose, large black lips and blue teeth smiling back at me.

  6. Yeah, I agree those close-ups are killer. The metallic blue-green chelicerae are amazing. I wonder why this brilliant color? Thanks for another great batch of high quality arthropod photos.

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