The International SpiderFest -- I Love My Arachnid

The International SpiderFest: A contest to locate and photograph spiders and other arachnids around the world.

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Fig. 1. This is a reclusive cobweb weaver. The specimen was not collected. Althouth it resembles a Brown Recluse, it has eight eyes arranged in a central cluster on the cephalothorax and is a Southrn House Spider, Kukulcania (Filistata) hibernalis Hentz. These spiders build webs in cracks and crevices, under roofs and rafters, in barns and stables and just about anywhere else there is a dry recess for them to hide and catch insects. PHOTO COPYRIGHT 2005 BY TAL

The International Spider Festiva is seeking photographs of spiders around the world!

The International Spider Festival is a contest to take the best photographs of spiders around the world.

To enter this contest you must photograph a spider in its natural environment. No means may be used to disturb or remove the spider and place it in an artificial environment for making your photograph. Part of the fun and challenge of this contest is to seek out spiders in their natural environment and to photograph the spiders without hurting or harming them. You may use live insects to lure spiders out of their hiding places but please try not to actually damage the spiders home. By the way, when using an insect to lure a spider out of its web, use extreme caution. Some spiders like the Brown Recluse and Black Widow have very poisonous venom. The proper way to lure a spider out of its web is to throw or drop and insect, such as a fly, cricket or moth, into the web or near a trap door from a distance and quickly photograph the spider if it appears. Photographs of poisonous spiders or scorpions should be made with extreme care to avoid being bitten.

Spiders should NOT be collected or held in captivity to get photographs. Nor should spiders purchased from pet shops or stores be used as subjects. This is a competition to photograph spiders in nature and in no way should any spider be hurt, harmed, molested or disturbed in the process of observing and photographing it.

Of course there are exceptions which will be permitted. You may capture and release spiders and photograph them in their natual environment. Or you may do photomicrography of spiders, as of immature spiders or minute features and details of spiders which require the usage of a microscope. Even in such cases, however, it is recommended to attempt to photograph live specimes.

If photographing a particular behavior can be best done using captured and collected spiders this is also permitted. In such cases please release spiders after they are photographed. Remember, the challenge is to take photographs of live spiders in their natural environment exhibiting natural behavior. Please keep this in mind when taking photographs of spiders and their webs.

How to Photograph Spiders

Photographing spiders is a fun and challenging adventure. Many spiders can best be photographed at night when they are active. In Fig. 1 the reclusive cobweb weaver was photographed by searching for spiders at night with a flash light. When a spider was discovered out of its nest, it was carefully apporached, illuminated with a pen light that it may be properly framed, and photographed using an automatic flash.

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Fig. 2. Eyes of an immature jumping spider. Three Rivers State Park, Fla. PHOTO COPYRIGHT 2005 BY TAL.

In Fig. 2 the eyes of an immature jumping spider were photographed under a microscope. Very small spiders were ballooning in the area and when one happened to land on a park table it was collected and placed upon a microscope slide and photographed. This is an example, of course, where it is certainly permissable to collect and photograph a spider.

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Fig. 3 Cephalothorax of male Southern House Spider, Kukulcania (Filistata) hibernalis Hentz at 20X in alcohol. Note the cluster of eight eyes on the anterior of the cephalothorax. PHOTO COPYRIGHT 2006 BY TAL

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Fig. 4. Orb web weaver and its large web. PHOTO COPYRIGHT 2005 BY TAL.

Part of the fun and challenge of SpiderFest is to hunt for spiders day or night and use your ingenuity to obtain good photographs. One way to photograph a spider in its web at night is to illuminate the web from an angle while taking the picture so as to be able to see the filaments of the web as was done in Fig. 4.

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Fig. 5. A large golden silk spider. Three Rivers State Park, Fla. PHOTO COPYRIGHT 2005 BY TAL.

Use Extreme Caution When Photographing Venomous Spiders

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Fig. 6 Kukulcania hibernalis eye cluster 50X. One of the distinguishing features of Kukulcania hibernalis is that it has eight large globbular eyes closely set together in a central cluster on its cephalothorax. This is the ideal arrangement for a spider which remains retreated inside its web always looking forward and generally comes out only at night to build and repair its web, mate and catch prey. In contrast the Brown Recluse has six eyes arranged in three pairs of two eyes with one pair of eyes looking forward and the other two pairs of eyes lateral. Note in this photo that each eye spherical is reflecting the white light source as a point of light. The central reflection is from moisture upon the carapace given this speciment had been preserved in alcohol. PHOTO COPYRIGHT 2005 BY TAL

With regard to the reclusive cobweb weaver spider shown in Fig. 1, this spider was not captured or submitted for identification. Although it resembles a Brown Recluse Loxosceles reclusa, commonly known as the Violin Spider or Brown Recluse Spider, given its body shape, closer examination of similar specimens collected indicate this spider has eight eyes as shown in Fig. 6 set in a central cluster on the anterior portion of the cephalothorax and is the Southern House Spider, Kukulcania (Filistata) hibernalis Hentz.

The Brown Recluse (featured in the background graphic) is actually very common and has a wide range from Kansas and Missouri to Texas, west to California. They also occur in the deep south. There is a distribution map on the Brown Recluse Spider site produced by the Department of Entomology at Kentucky University. This site also has excellent information with respect to how to identify and control these spiders, which may require aid of "knowledgeable professionals."

Brown Recluse spiders should not be handled by anyone. It may be that other species like the Southern House Spider have developed a protective resemblance to the Brown Recluse. In any case when photographing spiders do not touch the web or molest the spider in any way. Although reclusive spiders are very shy and will retreat into their web at the slighted sound or disturbance, you do not want to risk being bitten by a Brown Recluse.

Cob weaver spiders can move short distances very rapidly especially in their webs. They could easily escape or drop if someone tries to catch them. In fact, dropping from the web upon a thread of silk is a protective behavior some spiders will exhibit when people try to remove the webs. The Brown Recluse spiders have a very "scary" appearence which I believe may have been evolved as a survival benefit for the species, in that it keeps them from being molested, a fact that applies to spiders in general. I would hope this scary appearence serves as a warning to everyone to leave these spiders alone, to take only pictures, not specimens!

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Fig. 7. Spiders are very opportunistic and will make their home in any good shelter. Here a cob web weaver has built its web inside a squash after the inside of the zucchini squash was devoured by fly maggots and earwigs. PHOTO COPYRIGHT 2006 BY TAL.

The Brown Recluse does sometimes get into houses and retire inside shoes, bed linen, clothing or other items and will bite when molested or touched by accident. The bite of the Brown Recluse results in a thick crust surrounded by a red area which falls off to leave a large wound that is very slow to heal, taking months. (The Audubon Society Field Guide to North Ameircan Insects & Spiders. Lorus and Margery Milne. 1980/1988. pp874-876)

Certainly the bite of the Brown Recluse can be fatal if a child, pet or someone espeically allergic is bitten. This is true of most highly venomous spiders and especially the Brown Recluse, the Black Widow, South American trantulas and some species of scorpions. Unfortunately many lawyers regard all spider bites as an "Act of God," even when spider infestations are the result of apartment complexes providing a breeding ground for insects and spiders, neglecting to provide pest control by professional and qualified pest control operators, and utterly ignoring tenants rights and/or having a total disregard for the health, welfare and safety of tenants as far as spider and insect infestation is concerned -- an issue which certainly demands TENANTS RIGHTS legislation be adopted by all cities/states.

You can find more information about the Brown Recluse at Ohio State Brown Recluse and Brown recluse identification and related species.

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Fig. 8. This rabid wolf spider was located at night by using the bright beam of a flashlight to locate the spider's gleeming eyes which produced a characteristic green reflection. Although rabid wolf spider look scary they are relatively harmless to humans, unlike their European relatives, the Tarantula. PHOTO COPYRIGHT 2006 BY TAL.

If you are interested in photographing spiders, remember that some species are poisonous. Do not molest or handle spiders; rather only photograph them in their natual environment from a distance. Please note that I have a respect for venomous animals. I have taken a college level entomology course, and have been collecting spiders, scorpions, snakes and other small animals for many years. However, collecting venomous animals should be left to the experts. Just because you may see someone on television catching poisonous snakes or handling poisonous spiders like trarantulas, does not mean anyone else should try to do this. Although a spider is not likely to jump out of its web and bite someone, spiders can move very rapidly which is how they behave when they capture an insect in their web. So when photographing spiders keep a respectful distance, never touch their webs and don't try to handle spiders, especailly the venomous ones.

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Fig. 9 A male (left) and female (right) Southern House Spider. Note the extreme difference between the body form of the male and female spiders. This difference may be attributed to how mating behavior has played a role in the evolution of the sexes.

Fig. 10 This large, hairy orb weaver built its web under the eaves of a house in Mississippi and was observed and photographed several nights in a row in late July.

How To Make Your Entry

Beginning October 1, 2008 any photographs selected for usage may be reprinted on promotional gifts and apparel to help raise funds.  So please ONLY send photographs which include a completed entry form.  This will be a way you can also get your nice designs upon high quality merchandise.  Also you will be eligible to receive an annual prize which may show your photograph on a product.  You current photos is not available unless you submit the complete entry form.

After photographing your spider, please send a digital photograph of your spider to Spiderfest. Please indicate the location (city/state/province), date and time where the photographs was taken and the name of the photographer. You may also indicate the scientific name of the spider should you know this. You should also indicate any other specific information you would like mentioned, as were the spider was found, plant it may be living upon, time of day or night, etc.

All entries become the property of The International SpiderFest and may be reprinted or published on this site or elsewhere to promote The International Spiderfest. No entries can be returned. Credit will be given to the photographer as PHOTO BY JOHN DOE.

There is no limit to the number of entries you may make. The contest has a perpetual duration and is open to anyone, anywhere in the world. Postings will be made of the best entries which will be featured on this site. This contest does not discriminate against people or spiders based upon race, religion, color, sex or national origin. Our philosophy is that every spider is a good spider; some are just more lovable than others!

No pics of human spiders or spiders drawn on the human body are allowed in this competition so please keep your privates to yourself! Sorry, but this had to be said for certainly someone would dress up as a spider or send in pics of their spider tattoos that would have to be disqualified for this is a contest involving the photographing of REAL spiders, not tattoos, drawings of spiders upon nude bodies or other depictions of spiders.

Spider Stuff

Please help promote and support The International SpiderFest. Some people do not realize that it cost money to maintain this site. One has to pay ISP fees, domain registration fees, monthly fees for DSL and telephone, etc. To support and maintain this and other educational and informative sites everyone is encouraged to purchase these high quality gifts and apparel. Thank you for your help. I hope you enjoy these fine "Spider Stuff" gifts and apparel.

I Love Spiders

A Fatal Attraction featuring a tarantula

Fatal Attractioin featuring an orb weaver

I Love Wolf Spiders

I Love Arachnids

Beware I Eat My Mate

Lycosa I Love You

I Love Arachnids

I Eat My Mate House Spider

I Eat My Mate Southern House Spider

I Love Spiders Tarantula

Adopt A Spider

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Please click on pic to visit store and purchase these items.

Please click on pic to visit store and purchase these items

Please click on pic to visit store and purchase these items.

Please click on pic to visit store and purchase these items

Please click on pic to visit store and purchase these items.

Please click on pic to visit store and purchase these items

Please click on pic to visit store and purchase these items.

Other Spider Photographs

There are many interesting aspects about spiders which may be captured using photography. Certainly the feeding behavior of spiders would make for interesting and challenging photographs. Web building is also an interesting behavior to photographs. Immature spiders in eggs, egg cases or sacs or collected upon adults would be a good subject matter. Close up photographs of the eyes of various types of spiders would be of interest. The various type of homes spiders make would also be interesting to photograph. All photographs of spiders sent may be published in the spider gallery or reprinted and marketed upon promotional SpiderFest items in the future. Thanks arachnidist!

Gallery of Selected Entries

I would like to thank everyone for sending their interesting, unusual or beautiful spider photographs. Entries will be featured here for all to enjoy!

Figure UK001. Can anyone identify this spider? It was photographed on Sept. 9, 2008 on the Grand River, between Vander cook Lake and Hague road, in Jackson, MI. Photo Copyright 2008 by Erin M.E. Ruhtz

Figure UK002. Can anyone identify this spider? It was photographed on or about May 24-25, 2008 in Ohio. Photo Copyright 2008 by Maddy Herrholtz, Ohio.

American House Spider and weevil. This spider had built its web on the porch of a home in Palmyra, Illinois, to feast nightly upon small insects attracted to the porch light. A small weevil can be seen dangling in the spider's web. Photo Copyright 2008 by Deveri Rudd, Palmyra, IL.

Photo copyright 2005 by Jeffrey Goldstein

Golden Silk Spider. This beautiful photograph was taken by Jeffrey Goldstein of Davie, Florida. It shows a large golden silk spider of the type typical of the southern Florida everglades area. The photograph was taken using a Kodak DC290 camera and shows the irregular, although intricate, web work of this species of very large spider. PHOTO COPYRIGHT 2005 BY JEFFREY GOLDSTEIN.

Photo copyright 2008 by Jessica Bennet, Yoncalla, Oregon
Black Widow Spider. Having built its cob web along a wooden fence, this large black widow waits patiently for prey to wonder into its web. Grass clipping have not been removed from the web suggesting that housekeeping is less important than conserving energy in dry climates where these highly poisonous spiders may often wait patiently for months at a time between catching a meal. Photo Copyright 2008 by Jessica Bennet, Yoncalla, Oregon

Photo copyright 2008 by Al Martinez, Tipton, CA
Orb weaver. This interesting photograph shows a large orb weaver of the Family Araneidae looming ominously over the reflection in the window of a large building complex. Photo Copyright 2008 by Al Martinez, Tipton, California.

Jumping Spider. After sharing correspondence on how to take better photographs of spiders, I was sent this close-up picture of a jumping spider observed by Maddy Herrholtz in Ohio. Does anyone know what species of jumping spider this may be? Photo Copyright 2008 by Maddy Herrholtz, Ohio. A reader suggested this jumping spider may be Salticus senicus.

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Can anyone identify this spider? It was shot with a Cannon Rebel xsi. Photo Copyright 2008 by Eric Michael Lough, Boise, Idaho.

Spider feasting upon a moth. This spider was found feasting upon a moth attracted to a UV lamp draped with a white sheet on a cool fall evening in October. No webing was observed near the spider, though certainly it was dangling from a thread. Can anyone identify the spider or the moth? It looks like an Elegant Crab Spider (Xysticus elegans) to me. Anyone second that? Copyright 2008 by T.A. Lynch.

Communal Spiders: A special challenge

Communal spiders may present the photographer with a special opportunity and challenge. I would like to challenge everyone who is interested in spiders and photography to seek out large communial spider webs and submit their best photographs.

Giant Spider Web in an East Texas State Park produced by Guatemalan Long-jawed Spider, Tetragnatha guatemalensis O. P.-Cambridge, Family Tetragnathidae - Long-jawed Orb Weavers. Photo: Lake Tawakoni State Park, n. Wills Point, Hunt Co., Texas, August 15, 2007 by Donna Garde (pronounced like "guard")

A large web of communal spiders was found in the late summer of 2007 at Lake Tawakoni State Park, Texas. The primary spiders contributing to this web have been determined to be Guatemalan Long-jawed spiders, Tetragnatha guatemalensis O. P.-Cambridge. Update: Mike Quinn of the Texas Parks & Wildlife reported that as of Aug. 2008 this large communal web is no longer present in Lake Tawakoni State Park.

Almost all tetragnathids were making loose, messy, atypical webs like this. Lake Tawakoni State Park, n. Wills Point, Hunt Co., Texas. Photo August 31, 2007 by Mike Quinn.

Another species of communial spider which occures from Argentina in South America north through Central America and the southern United States to New England is the Southeastern Social Cobweb Spider, Anelosimus studiosus (Hentz, 1850). The wide and extended range of these communial spiders offers a good opportunity for amaeture naturalists and photographers to hunt for and photograph such communal spiders.

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Southeastern Social Cobweb Spider, Anelosimus studiosus (Hentz, 1850), Family Theridiidae - Cobweb Spiders. PHOTO courtesy of Texas Entomology by Mike Quinn

Given that communal spiders occur in North America from the Mexican boarder throughout the south and eastern United States all the way to Maine, this should afford ample opportunity for naturalist and photographers to seek out and discover large webs and photograph both the spiders close-up and their homes. Please let me know if you discover any remarkable communal spider webs and send your photos to Terry. Thanks.

For more information about communal spiders visit Giant Spider Web in an East Texas State Park


Please visit these links. Don't forget to go spider hunting. Make a night of it and see who can find and photograph the most interesting spider.

Spiders via Yahoo


You may support The International SpiderFest with a donations of any amount which will be considered a gift to a private individual and is NOT tax deductible. You may also make donations via to the email address of Thank you for your consideration and support.

You may also help by purchasing design items featured on The International SpiderFest or available via our sponsor. Thank you for your support.

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