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A Mommy or a Daddy ?


A Mommy or a Daddy ?
Photo Information
Copyright: Gerhard Theron (gerhardt) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1936 W: 244 N: 4106] (11620)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2004-09-15
Categories: Spiders
Camera: Minolta Dimage Z1
Exposure: f/3.5, 1/60 seconds
Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
Theme(s): Araneae (Spiders) [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2004-09-16 4:20
Viewed: 13052
Points: 30
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Daddy long legs spiders (Pholcidae family)

The Pholcidae, or daddy long legs spiders, is a large family with a worldwide distribution. In South Africa there are 3 genera with about 39 species; Pholcus, Smeringopus and Spermaphora. These spiders are harmless to man as their jaws are unable to penetrate human skin and the venom dose is also too minute. Spider specialists are often asked if it is true that, of all the spiders, the pholcids have the deadliest venom and the only reason there are no human fatalities is because of the small size of the jaws. There is no documentation on this. The venom is neurotoxic and is deadly to the prey. The pholcids, as well as other spiders, should be encouraged in the home as they control various insect pests such as mosquitoes, flies, fishmoths, ants and moths.

The spider hangs inverted in a messy, irregular, tangled web. These webs are constructed in dark recesses, in caves, under rocks and loose bark, abandoned mammal burrows and undisturbed areas in buildings and cellars, hence the other common name, cellar spiders. The web has no adhesive properties but the irregular structure traps insects, making escape difficult. The spider quickly envelops its prey with silk and then inflicts the fatal bite. The prey may be eaten immediately or stored for later. When the spider is threatened by a touch to the web or when too large a prey hits the web, the spider becomes invisible by vibrating rapidly and becoming blurred. When off their webs, pholcids walk with an unsteady, bobbing action.

Pholcids are fragile spiders, the body being 2 to 10 mm in length and the legs are up to 30 mm long. Pholcus and Smeringopus have cylindrical abdomens and the eyes are arranged in 2 lateral groups of 3 and 2 smaller median contiguous (together) eyes. Spermaphora has a small globose (round) abdomen and its eyes are arranged in 2 groups of 3 and no median eyes. Pholcids are grey to brown with banding or chevron markings.

The eggs of the pholcids have no protective sac but are held together as an agglutinated (glued together) mass and, as with the Scytodidae, are carried by the female in the chelicerae and are attached to the web while she feeds. The eggs hatch after 2 to 3 weeks and the spiderlings mature after 5 moults.

I caught this critter in my garden. Everything was against me when taking this photo. The spider was sitting in the shade, the wind was blowing, the spider is very small. (body 4mm, legs like a pin) Still the photo fairy was on my side and I managed to pull of an acceptable shot of it. Those striped legs are fascinating. I like it and hope you do too.

carper, PDP, Jax, marhowie, AndyB, japie, TAZ, RAP, extramundi, Callie, Signal-Womb, Robbrown, Pedda, Luc, greghume, Fucowee has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

Het is een zeer goed shot Gerhard,
En echt met al zijn poten op de foto,
De kleuren zijn goed en de note is very god, erg goed gedaan Gerhard. Tot over 1 1/2 week

  • Great 
  • PDP Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor [C: 2821 W: 344 N: 3779] (11769)
  • [2004-09-16 6:16]

Excellent picture Gerhard. I've never seen this before. Great detail and I love the little bands on the legs. The note makes fascinating reading. Very good work.

  • Great 
  • Jax Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 77 W: 0 N: 150] (500)
  • [2004-09-16 7:26]

Lovely detailed shot and a very interesting note.

Gerhard, Like the way you composed this leggy beast. You've managed to get most of the leg action in your dof & the background choice shows off its "legs" also. Always enjoy your notes, learning alot here at TN - Thanx.

  • Great 
  • AndyB Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1366 W: 32 N: 1351] (3982)
  • [2004-09-16 10:29]

A very nice shot.
Excellent sharp detail with good diagonal composition.
A great note too.
Very well done.

  • Great 
  • japie Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1814 W: 100 N: 1904] (5187)
  • [2004-09-16 11:54]

We have so many here by us, yet this is the 1st time I have seen one this close. What makes this shot even better is that these guys dont sit still once they have been disturbed. The image is very sharp and the composition good. The choice of green as the background was good as well. Callie gave me a lot of info on exposure and one of the things he mentioned was that natures green is usually the same shade/level as the the grey card used to determine the correct exposure. Nice shot and note.

  • Great 
  • TAZ Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2241 W: 47 N: 3167] (10926)
  • [2004-09-16 11:58]

Jolie composition en diagonale pour cette araignée toute mince. Note instructive comme d'habitude...
Well done !

  • Great 
  • RAP Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2524 W: 345 N: 2373] (7405)
  • [2004-09-16 14:13]

Bonita captura de esta pequeña araña.
buena nitidez, con colores naturales y atinado encuadre.

Pretty capture of this small spider.
Good sharpness, with natural colors and accurate frame.

Gerhard, I understand you, this are very dificult, in the one I made of the Long Legs, there were only few shots good from a lot of them. Here you managed great, the detail is very good, and the legs are fantastic. Only a bit to green with leave reflection maybe.

  • Great 
  • Callie Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1101 W: 95 N: 2610] (7555)
  • [2004-09-16 15:11]

Who cares, it has long legs! Jy krap nou in die ouens daar oorkant se slaai! Nice post and note too!

Very nice photo Gerhard the legs make this spider for me. Thanks for that very informative note also.

Very good capture of this small spindly spider in such a dark corner. there is good detail here . the end of one long leg is missing, but that is really only a minnor nit.

  • Great 
  • Pedda Silver Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 41 W: 1 N: 247] (1287)
  • [2004-09-19 13:41]

Good picture. Nice colours and details and it has a perfect diagonal line in the leaf.

The note is excellent.

Excellent capture, Gerhard. I've seen plenty of these in North America, but never with this degree of detail. I hope you don't mind but I took the liberty of a WS changing the color balance based on the colors that I recall for this spider. The note is first rate - had no idea about its venonmous nature.

Nice detail of this spider and the stripes on its legs are interesting. Thanks for all the info on these critters.

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