My friend Richard is really into spiders. He loves them, so when I said I might look at one under the microscope he immediately checked that I was not going to harm any. He even went so far as to send me a deceased spider in the post, a lovely Tegenaria. It’s a little dehydrated but it is still very spidery and a fascinating subject. He sent me another one but I had a job interview and haven’t had time to photograph it yet. Such a shame because it’s a real beauty. I should be able to get it done on Monday.
Tegenaria is a common house spider. Several pictures were taken under a stereo microscope using incident lighting and the pictures were stacked using Helicon focus software. I’m a big fan of Helicon because it’s idiot proof. The pedipalps are shown in the second and third picture. Pedipalps, or palps as they are often called, are the sex organs which the male spiders use to transfer seminal fluid to the females during mating. Mating is a dangerous business for male spiders because the females have a tendency to consume their mates.
“Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly,
‘Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I’ve a many curious things to shew when you are there.”
“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair
-can ne’er come down again.”
By Mary Howitt 1829