Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Eustala anastera

with 20 comments

While walking at Southeast Metropolitan Park on October 30th, I noticed a tiny bit of pale bluish-green color at the intersection of the radiating spikes of a grass seed head. Upon looking more closely I still couldn’t tell what I was seeing, but the view through my camera’s macro lens revealed a spider of a sort I don’t think I’d ever seen before. Joe Lapp later told me it was probably Eustala anastera, and the good folks at BugGuide concurred.

The shape of this little spider, which was only about a quarter of an inch long and which is known as a humpbacked orbweaver, takes me back to the Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers science fiction movies of the 1930s, and it reminds me somehow of the simplistic rocket ships that appeared in those films. Less far afield, which is to say still in the realm of biology, I can also imagine the spider transforming itself into a pulsating jellyfish.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 13, 2012 at 6:13 AM

20 Responses

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  1. Exquisite!!!

    Agnes Plutino

    November 13, 2012 at 6:28 AM

    • Thanks for applying that word to this spider. You may be the first person ever to have done so.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 13, 2012 at 7:31 AM

  2. Sieht ein wenig unheimlich aus, aber ein tolles Foto!!

    einfachtilda

    November 13, 2012 at 6:34 AM

    • I find the following English translations for unheimlich: ‘Uncomfortable, uneasy, gloomy, dismal, uncanny, ghastly; (of a house) haunted; (of a man) a repulsive fellow.’ As a result, when Mathilde says that that “[it] seems a bit unheimlich, but a lovely photo,” I take it she finds the spider a bit repulsive.

      Heimlich corresponds historically to English homely, but the meanings don’t match up. Whereas heimlich means ‘familiar,’ homely has come to mean ‘unappealing, ugly.’ The change in the English meaning shows that familiarity breeds contempt. In any case, I hope you won’t feel contempt for this little spider. And if you do, you can get the Heimlich Maneuver performed on you so you’ll be able to recover.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 13, 2012 at 7:42 AM

  3. WHOA! Now that’s a beautiful specimen of a spider! And a good photograph of the subject. ~Lynda

    pixilated2

    November 13, 2012 at 9:25 AM

  4. Cool Colors for a Spider – thanks for sharing!

    cravesadventure

    November 13, 2012 at 1:12 PM

    • It was the color that attracted me, and then surprised me by coming from a spider. Definitely something unusual to share.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 13, 2012 at 1:34 PM

  5. The jellyfish analogy is good. And that color is magnificent. I’ve tried all day to think of other instances in nature. All I can think of is the occasional bird’s egg, It’s not even a color often seen in flowers – I can’t think of a single one. Damselflies are close, but they’re more turquoise or electric blue.

    I’ll say this – these orbweavers are pretty fancy. I found a marbled orbweaver and a spiny-backed one that looks like it was designed by a punk rocker.

    shoreacres

    November 13, 2012 at 8:05 PM

    • Good of you to think of certain birds’ eggs for that rare color; it never occurred to me. And I’m glad someone else saw the jellyfish in this. From the little I’ve read, there are many kinds of orbweavers, and from what you’ve just said, some of them are startling in their designs. What a strange world we live in.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 13, 2012 at 10:36 PM

  6. What an intriguing little creature that is! I’ve never seen anything like that either.

    montucky

    November 13, 2012 at 9:05 PM

    • I wonder if this spider takes that stance when it feels threatened. Most of the pictures of this species that I’ve found on the Internet show a more spidery-looking spider.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 13, 2012 at 10:38 PM

  7. That is definitely a different color for a spider! My first thought before I read your description was that it looked like a jellyfish! Great eye seeing this Steve!

    Michael Glover

    November 15, 2012 at 9:05 PM

    • That makes two of us who see a jellyfish in this spider. I certainly agree that the color is unique, and that’s why I didn’t know at first that I was seeing a spider.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 15, 2012 at 9:23 PM

  8. Intriguing is the word. Great shot and your rambling in the word galleries is interesting too. I agree. The macro world is indeed surprising and fantastic! Thank you for stopping by my blog – so I could find yours! My students belong to the nature and science programme, and the interest is mutual.

    lagottocattleya

    November 18, 2012 at 9:47 AM

    • I’m glad this intrigued you, too. Long live the world of macro! And long live words as well.

      As for you pictures of Barcelona, the Plaça d’Espanya fountains were already illuminated in 1985, and I did see the display at least once. I liked many other things about the city, including the wide variety of vegetarian restaurants. My stay was before the Olympics, and I gather the city has had many additions in the 27 years since I was there. I’d enjoy going back.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 18, 2012 at 11:32 AM

  9. Love his colors. I’ve always thought arachnids rather pretty (unlike most), but this one dons a particularly colorful outfit.

    Shannon

    December 28, 2012 at 3:43 PM

    • Yes, I don’t think I’d ever seen a spider that color before. I’m all for uniqueness.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 28, 2012 at 4:08 PM


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