I was moving old woodpiles closer to the house for winter and sorting some old planks for sawing, when suddenly I found this huge orb weaver on one piece of rotten wood. I put it carefully in a place where I could take pictures and it was kind enough to stay in place long enough for me to fetch my camera, and my PC today obliged to getting its act together for long enough for me to correct the pictures for posting (my homemade macro lens has, unfortunately, strong chromatic aberration).
In Czech, local orb weavers are called “křižák” (pl. “křižáci”) which means “crusader”. The name derives from the markings on their back which often have the spots arranged in somewhat vaguely cross-like pattern, especially from some angles. I will be most interested in their names in other languages.
I am not exactly arachnophobic, but I do not particularly enjoy unexpected encounters with such a big spider either and my first reaction is to flee. I found out that having a first thought “I must take pictures to share on the blog” helps with that.
We were told at school that no local spider can bite through human skin, but one of my friends was bitten by one on the neck and he disagrees. I was also bitten by one local spider in the thin skin on the back of the hand (I do not know the species), so I disagree with that wisdom too and I am careful with them. Not for fear of poison, but allergic reaction or skin infection are not fun either.
For last picture I cropped all the excess around the beast to show her (probably) in all her magnificent and terrible (and hairy) beauty.
No spiders were harmed in making of this blog post. The specimen in question was released in safe location where I could not squish her with firewood. If she stayed there is another matter of course.