Cryptozoology, BioForteana, Zoological Oddities, Unusual Natural History

BioFortean Review, (May 2011, No. 27)

A Photoreactive Spider

Jeff Scism

I had gotten my first digital SLR in February 2009, and I had purchased the adapter to attach my older Canon FD lenses and my 30 year-old bellows for Macro work. I was just putting it together for the first time when I noted  this almost invisible tiny spider hanging from the light fixture. It was about the size of the head of a map-pin. So I said, "Let's see how much magnification I can get?" Using the Canon 80-300 zoom on the bellows, I started shooting shots. The spider didn't like the strobe so it scampered back up to the light fixture. That is where one shot was taken which is a good indication of the scale.

The spider once again dropped on its web, and was about a foot below the  fixture (which had a single compact fluorescent bulb) and I started taking strobe photos. After the third or fourth shot I noticed that between shots the spider was looking greener. I kept shooting but the web was swinging and only a few shots had good focus. I stopped to review the shots in camera and noted that the spider had an aura. So I turned off the strobe and  shot the last shot using only the compact fluorescent. It was luminescent. I have one other shot that shows the spider with a bright green glow against a purple background.

The spider was gone the next day, and just two days ago the mobile home it was in was towed from San Bernardino, California, to Mexico. (It had been condemned).

Notice this is a reactive luminescence. It doesn't seem to be a result of active illumination, but a lingering effect after several sudden bright exposures. (Like iridium? H3?) Sort of like glow-in-the-dark paint.

The room was dark except for that single light tube, with no back light. Also two legs had a lot less glow, as they were behind the body in most of the strobe shots.

The spider, with screw for scale. (© Jeff Scism)

The spider, with a luminous glow. (© Jeff Scism)

[Editor's Note: While this is not directly related to cryptozoological stories of glowing spiders, it is a fascinating phenomenon that is worth further investigation. I am not aware of similar reports, but how many people are strobing spiderlings? It appears to be a member of the Agelenidae, but without further experimentation, I wouldn't dismiss the possibility that this phenomenon might be found in spiderlings from other groups.]

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