Posted by: lklinger2013 | June 22, 2013

Arachnofabulous: My Favorite Spiders in Korea

Strange things can give one a sense of home. For me, some of those things happen to be large spiders. As a kid, I snuck spiders home in my lunchbox: mostly big black and yellow garden spiders (Argiope aurantia) and fuzzy-legged banana spiders (Nephila clavipes). On one occasion, they started escaping during lunch. (This is perhaps why, despite my unpopularity, no one picked fights with me at school. They were afraid to put their hands anywhere near my pockets.)

My parents weren’t exactly fans of spiders but Dad  made me a spider cage and Mom bought me field guides. They probably told themselves, “at least it’s not drugs”.

When I came to Korea in 2008, everything was so strange that the sight of a familiar thing, however small and ordinary, delighted me. I was happy to find dandelions, wild violets, roly polies, and red-eared sliders (that last one is a guilty pleasure, since they are an invasive species that pushes other turtles out of their habitats). I also found local species of Argiope and Nephila and a flower-dwelling ambush predator called a crab spider (not to be confused with the spiny orbweaver Gastroacantha cancriformis, commonly called “crab spiders” in the U.S.).

I often take pictures of spiders. They sit still for far longer than birds or butterflies do.  Here are some photos of my favorite spiders in Korea. If you hate spiders, try to remember that: 1) these spiders are not dangerous to humans ; 2) golden orbweaver silk is useful in medical research; and 3) were it not for spiders, insects would eat all our food.

Argiope (named for the hundred-eyed giant of Greek mythology). Argiopes' webs are easily recognized by the white zigzag pattern in the middle.

Argiope bruennichii or puchella (named for the hundred-eyed giant of Greek mythgology) in Daegu. An argiope’s web is easily recognized by the white zigzag strip in the middle. Their Korean common name is horangi gumi (호랑이 거미), or “tiger spider”.

Nephila clavata, female (larger) and male in Iksan.  "Nephila" comes from Greek words meaning "loves to spin".

Nephila clavata, female (larger) and male in Iksan. “Nephila” comes from Greek words meaning “loves to spin”. Their Korean common name is mudang gumi (무당 거미), or “fortune-teller spider”.

Nephila spiderling in a pine tree, Iksan.

N. clavata spiderling in a pine tree, Iksan.

Pale green crab spider on a pink flower, Samgi (small village outside of Iksan).

Pale green crab spider on a pink flower, Samgi (small village outside of Iksan).

Green orbweaver, genus and species unknown, Iksan.

Green orbweaver, genus and species unknown, Iksan.

I embroidered this argiope spider on my denim jacket. The Korean say "cute spider".

I embroidered this argiope spider on my denim jacket. The Korean says “cute spider”.


Responses

  1. I was wondering what that green spider was… I just took pictures around my house and have been trying to identify all the types of spiders I saw. Thanks for at least giving me “green orb weaver” even if it’s not specific haha. 🙂

    • One of these days, I’ll flip through a spider book in a big bookstore and at least get a Korean name for those green guys.

      • They are so vibrant, it’s awesome. Like they ate my highlighter or something.

  2. Where can I buy one of those spiders in Korea?


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