Studying these spiders and their behaviour is a hobby that Pavan Srinath has pursued for over one year now and he says he finds beauty in these tiny creatures that many of us wouldn’t bother looking at. He says, “Be it in the grass or near the bottom of hedges, you can find them just about anywhere.”
But he does not consider himself an environmentalist. This twenty-four year old, who works as a researcher on climate change and public policy in a non profit think-thank called ‘Public Affairs’, developed an interest towards these creepy creatures while on a vacation.
He explains, “When I had gone for a vacation to Mysore last October, I found a very striking spider of an Argiope species. And later in the month, I found a very similar spider where I work. Then I started looking around for them, trying to be more observant. And I found Argiope spiders everywhere! This started the whole thing.” Having a background in biology was just an added advantage for him to study the behaviour and different aspects of these tiny creatures. He finds these a marvel of nature which has basically so many wide variety of creatures.
He opines, “This category of insects is not given too much of importance. Some people find it fascinating to spot a tiger or a peacock. It is surprising, because there are more than 50,000 species of spiders.” So where does he usually go to observe these spiders?
He replies, “My office is located on the outskirts of town, in Electronic City. Near my office building, there is a two-acre land which is only wilderness.
I head out to this place to spend some time there, taking a look at the spiders, observing their behaviour, colour etc. In this place alone, you can find so many different varieties of spiders which you will not get to see anywhere in the City.” He adds that on weekends he packs his bags and sets out on long trips to different places like Wayanad, Gulf of Mannar with his friends and his camera.
He further explains that insects can get uncomfortable when they are approached by a person, more so with a camera. But with time, Pavan has learnt their behaviour to an extent where, even if he clicks a shot from an inch away, they do not squirm out of sight.
“I started noticing that every spider is different. Also, if you notice a spider behaves in a different way every time,” Pavan informs.
One particular instance he reminisces is that of the ‘Jumping spiders’ that are found not only in open spaces but even inside rooms. He says, “These are one of my favourites. They are great fun to photograph and appear to be very expressive. In this one year, I got a chance to see them more often in man-made environment like desks, walls, indoors, and on my clothes even. They’re harder to get a hold of on a plant or in a bush.”
He adds, “You can see some spiders only late in the evening. So you need to wait till then and keep shooting.” Other species of spiders that he mentions include a two-striped jumper ‘Telamonia dimidiata’, hunting spider ‘Oxyopes spp’ and others.
Is there any particular season that is favourable for spider watching? “The monsoon is ‘high spring’ for a lot of spiders in India, odd as that may sound. You start seeing spiders during this time in different stages of their life cycle, and you get snapshots of how things are in the whole birth-growth-death cycle.”