LADYBIRD SPIDER

Eresus cinnaberinus (formerly Eresus niger)

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Eresus cinnaberinus (male)

"It was Roger that first introduce me to one of the most beautiful spiders in the world, with the elegant sounding name of Eresus niger. ...

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I went over to see what it was; then suddenly I saw something so startingly beautiful that I could hardly believe my eyes. It was a tiny spider, the size of a pea, and at first glance it looked like an animated ruby or a moving drop of blood. ...

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"Aha!" said Theodore, taking a swig of ginger beer, before producing his magnifying glass the better to examine my capture. "Yes an Eresus niger ..., um ..., yes ..., this is of course the male, such a pretty creature, the female is ..., you know..., all black, but the male is very brightly coloured."

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On close examination through a magnifying glass, the spider turned out to be even more beautiful than I thought. Its forequarters or cephalo-forax, were velvety black with little specks of scarlet at the edges. Its rather stocky legs were ringed with white bands, so that it looked as though it was wearing striped pants. But it was its abdomen was really eye-catching; this was a vivid huntsman's red, marked with three round black spots rimmed with white hairs. It was the most spectacular spider that I had ever seen ..."

THE GARDEN OF THE GODS © Gerald Durrell 1978

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Now known as Eresus cinnaberinus or Ladybird spider it is these days very rare and protected in some countries. As Gerald Durrell went on to observe for himself after mating the female of the species is "not averse to making a light snack of her husband" and when he opened the "nursery" he "found that it was surrounded by cells in which all the young spiders sat, while in the central hall lay the corpse of their mother." adding, "It was a macabre, yet touching sight."

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Picture acknowledgement - Many thanks to Oleg Kosterin Novosibirsk, Russia  http://pisum.bionet.nsc.ru/kosterin/index.htm

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