Sometimes I like to go for late night walks, which help me to think and give me time by myself. While wandering past the sandy area next to the local graveyard, I noticed the fleetest hint of movement on the ground and immediately investigated. After some careful looking, I noticed that the movement was from an open hole in the ground and initially I thought “Oh a burrowing wolf spider”. Then I noticed it: The silk and dirt lid sitting next to the hole.
The movement had been a trapdoor spider! Now I just had to figure out how to photograph it.
Of all the Bugging About articles on this site, photographing this spider was by far the most challenging. For one thing, they are immensely flighty and scared of humans. Whenever I would approach a burrow, the owner would rapidly duck or run back into the hole. This is obviously very frustrating, so I had to come up with a strategy and it involved being careful where the light was. Every time my shadow passed the spider? It would flee. Additionally they are very sensitive to vibrations and so it is extremely hard to get close.
Slow careful movement, patience and avoiding having my shadow pointing towards the hole paid off. Big time, as I was able to get really close to the spider, without disturbing it and even with the flash on I realized it was entirely ignoring my presence. Naturally, I took as many photos as I possibly could while I had this fantastic opportunity.
This photo shows off the Grey Wolf Spider in all of its glory. Unlike my previous photographs of burrowing wolf spiders on the blog, this species covers its hole with a trap door to hide (which you can see in the background).
If you look closely, you can clearly see the little bits of red coloration at either side of the chelicerae on this photo.
This is possibly my favourite photo of the bunch. Here you can see one of the fangs – the pointy black bits at the tip of the front there – plus the wonderful eyes (which readily reflect light, hence the coloration).
At this point the spider had enough and crawled around the hole, found her lid and then promptly did this:
And with this, the photography was at an end but I was incredibly pleased in every single respect. These are possibly some of the best photos under tricky conditions I’ve taken of a *very* flighty animal. Most importantly, I was able to get the photos without needing to handle or otherwise disrupt the creatures “natural” routine, which is by far the best kind of photoshoot I like.