Depending on who you ask, spiders are either the cute critters worthy of curious examination or deadly pests who deserve immediate execution.
But one thing’s for sure: If you’ve ever been to an Aussie bush doof, you’ll notice there’s always plenty of eight-legged punters gadding about.
Why do our arachnid friends love your tent or sleeping bag so much?
Robert Whyte, arachnologist and author of “A Field Guide to Spiders of Australia”, has a simple answer:
“If you want to attract spiders in the bush all you have to do is drive out there and turn a diesel engine on and they’ll come in droves. They’re really clued into vibrations, and, if you think about rock or dance music with the strong beat, it’s like a signal to the spiders.”
“They use the beats of their own bodies to communicate. They can tap their legs on the ground, or they wave their legs in the air as a way of courtship between the males and the females. It’s all to do with the beat,” he said.
Robert feels that spiders have been misrepresented in the public eye, and aims to set the record straight.
“Fear of spiders is only caused by other people, not by spiders. It’s the ‘fear and disgust’-face by a parent or another person when you’re young that teaches you not to like spiders.”
“I wish that people knew how little we know about them because only one quarter to one-third of all of the species in Australia are scientifically described,” he said.
In his work, Robert has travelled around Australia, documenting and discovering new and exciting species.
And, he says you don’t need a PhD to do the same.