03 April, 2014

Rain spiders Palystes sp.

by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity

There are two forms of wildlife that make me shriek out loud. I have a totally irrational horror of grasshoppers, locusts. I will cross the road to avoid one. They don't bite. They don't hurt. But what if it would jump ON me. 

The second would be these rain spiders INside. I am OK if they are outside. We had one on the sliding glass patio doors. High up, towards the centre, near the opening. That evening I slid the doors open to tell M'sieur Chocolat the kitchen is about to close - Final Orders?! And something, large, walked very delicately, across my forehead. Well, my fringe, over my hair. As I drew breath to scream, I realised it was 'just' that rain spider. Disturbed in her evening hunting, by me, opening the door. 

Rain spider from above

Rain spider from below thru the rain spattered window

With the legs folded up, this spider is about the size of a child's fist. With eight legs spread wide, it is about the same size as my hand, with five fingers spread wide. So they are quite disconcerting, when you suddenly notice this dark shape. Especially if it is moving. Fast. 

Rain spider, missing a leg?

'Nocturnal, wandering hunters that live in vegetation but often come indoors to hunt insects attracted to lights.' from Spiderwatch in Southern Africa, by Astri and John Leroy. 'Rain' spiders, because they don't like to get wet, understandably, and so they shelter in our house! More info at Biodiversityexplorer - 'for people the venom is no worse than a bee sting'. Palystes sp. 

Spider catcher with dead volunteer

We often encourage our bio to be diverse back into the garden, not the house. Today a pair of doves, yesterday a dragonfly. Spiders we harvest with the Ungardener's spider catcher. A clear plastic cup and something flat to slide underneath.

Paradise and Roses in January 2008 

Paradise and Roses in January 2010

Paradise and Roses in 2014

In January 2008 I caught this lovely view of the pink roses - Spring Promise - with glaucous blue foliage. Two years later the little tree - Dais cotonifolia had grown. And there are the promised pink pompoms for Christmas. It is a thirsty little tree, but it is in the rose garden, and gets watered each week. The wildeals - Artemisia afra, which smells delicious, like liquorice, has grown into a huge shrub. Melianthus major, after I read of it being cut back by frost each year in the North, has also been pruned hard. Just the little, younger branches left. And behind that Dusty Miller hedge, yes there are still rose bushes! We, the roses and I, are waiting for rain, and the autumn flush. In 2014 from the verandah we see ... (that plum tree has died and has long since been replaced by) a camphor bush. 

Autumn sunset on fire

Autumn sky blazing in the fire of a sunset.

Pictures by Diana and Jurg Studer of Elephant's Eye 
(in Porterville, near Cape Town in South Africa)

(If you mouse over brown text, it turns shriek pink. Those are my links.

To read or leave comments, either click the word Comments below, 
or click this post's title)


  1. Eek, you make me shiver. A spider the size of your hand?! I agree with you, I don't like wildlife inside the house either. Luckily our spiders are much smaller than yours.

  2. the spider photos are amazing, the size is incredible, beautiful sunset , wow, such beautiful photos, I'm not sure I would be brave enough to capture one of those spiders to relocate it, yikes! I might have to call in for reinforcements,

    1. The Ungardener is my first choice, but if he's not around ... I'd rather brave relocating, than wonder ... where's that spider ... did it MOVE!?

  3. Oh my goodness! I'd shriek too!
    I don't like earwigs,weasels,and when snakes slither over my feet.
    Jane x

  4. I'm not surprised you were disconcerted to have a spider that big walk across your forehead!

    When I was at school, our biology mistress put a thread through the carapace of a locust and let it fly on the end. It whizzed round in a few circles then either its shell or the thread broke and it flew - onto me . . . and sat there. I didn't mind BUT all the other girls in the class (single sex school) ran to the edges of the room. It was a lonely moment. Me on a tall science lab stool - everyone else - gone!

  5. Beautiful spider, but I wouldn't want it in my house, either! Yikes! Actually, I think cockroaches are worse, but luckily we don't have them here. I think it's too cold? Oh, and I thoroughly enjoyed your view of "Paradise and Roses" over the years!

  6. Over the last week or so I have seen at least 3 or 4 people post pictures of rain spiders in the houses on Facebook.

  7. Yikes! I consider myself a friend of spiders, and they don't usually bother me. As long as they are outside. If one the size of my hand landed on my head, I might have a problem! Grasshoppers are OK, except for the big black ones with yellow or red stripes on the sides. I have had an irrational fear of them since childhood. The little green ones had better watch out; I used to catch them with my bare hands to feed to my sons' pet lizard.

    1. mm the technicoloured ones are REALly SCARy!
      Red or yellow here too.

  8. A bit scary - I don't think I would have liked such a big spider on my face!
    Lovely images from your beautiful garden.
    Have a lovely week!
    xo Ingrid

  9. Diana, I have to say that I didn't scream at all when I scrolled down the post and saw THAT! It's only because I am working on controlling my irrational fear of spiders, real, imaginary, or in images, there were a couple of amazed deep breaths...and a how on earth you did not run freaking and screaming is beyond me exhale...sorry, that's to darn huge for my liking, even on the screen.

    Remind me never to walk into one of those.


    1. it was all over, before I could scream. And after, would have been ...silly ;~)

  10. I'm very happy we don't have spiders that size here! I'm OK with most things when there are in their habitat but there are several I would rather not have inside! My irrational fear is the millipede that I always kill if it corsses my path inside.

  11. Diana that is a gorgeous fiery sunset....spiders that big are given a wide berth by me....wow I would be shrieking.


Photographs and Copyright

Photographs are from Diana Studer or Jurg Studer.
My Canon PowerShot A490

If I use your images or information, it will be clearly acknowledged with either a link to the website, or details of the book. If you use my images or words, I expect you to acknowledge them in turn.

Midnight in Darkest Africa

Midnight in Darkest Africa
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