A few weeks back I had a lecture on photography and, to practice what we learned, we were sent outside to go and take some photographs. During that time I found a rather large and imposing spider, with a suitably large and imposing web, in one of the trees in the quad. It turned out to be quite a challenge to photograph a spider as it was in an awkward position, I only had the camera on my phone which wouldn’t auto-foucs on the spider, and I was a bit nervous about getting too close. I didn’t get a picture of it that day but I didn’t stop trying.
The spider was in the same quad where I went to eat my lunch so I got into the habit of keeping an eye on it and, occasionally, trying to take it’s photograph. Eventually I learned that my phone would actually hold it’s auto focus without taking the picture if you held down the camera button, which was a tip we were taught. That let me try a couple more times to get a picture and I did have a bit more success then, although I still didn’t know what kind of spider it was.
Last weekend though, a few friends and I went to Kirstenbosch Garden, which you might recall I mentioned it was voted one of the top 10 picnic spots by National Geographic. In the garden we noticed there were a lot of spiders around, more than any of us remembered, and I noticed they were very familiar. According to a sign in the garden, they, and presumably ‘mine,’ were Black-legged Golden Orb Web Spiders (Nephila pilipes fenestrata), which can be up up 3cm long, females anyway, with a 15cm leg span and 1,5m wide web strong enough to catch small birds! The ‘golden’ in the name actually applies to their webs. Most of the webs looked normal to me but there was one, perhaps it caught the sun better, that was a very impressive golden colour. The prevalence of the spiders allowed me to get a much better picture.
At the same time on TV, one channel was showing a different Spider-man movie every week. All the thought about spiders and Spider-man left me with two observations/questions about the superhero. Firstly, since he seems to travel everywhere by swinging, he’d be almost useless anywhere that doesn’t have tall buildings. Secondly, who cleans up all the webs he makes when he fights crime and just swings around? Surely the city should have threads hanging everywhere by now.