Wednesday, September 10, 2003

a spider hunting we go

so when the bat people (people who work on bats here, not half-person/half-bats) told us about this huge spiders that were everywhere near one of the places they catch bats, we were sufficiently intrigued to check it out. We even saw a photograph of one of the spiders and it appeared to be something none of us (the spider lab) had seen before. And web spiders are always a thrill in the desert, you know. Its not like the tropics where you cant walk 10 m in the forest without hiting some web. Here you have to look real hard to find these tiny webs half hidden by the scrub and completely protected against the wind. And besides, seeing a lot of spiders easily was the final cinch. E and me had been there as soon as we heard about it, its a kind of lake near the dusty half forgotten town of Yerucham. I pass through Yerucham everytime I go down to the Arava, but never stop. It's a town for passing through, a town that surely must have seen better times. The "lake" is near a sprawling park that apparently was a prime location for locals to come and chill out, but like everything else, the place was left to fend for itself and now we see only the ruins of the tourist civilization, ruins of ticketing offices and boards instructing us in hebrew. We went up to the lakeside. Since the spiders are nocturnal, we had to go there in the night, armed with torches. It was a moonless night and the lake was pitch dark, only the lappin gof water indicated the presence of water. So when we saw the spiders, it was quite a big shock, because there were THOUSANDS of them. No doubt gorging themselves on the high quality diet of mosquitoes from the lakeside. Webs everywhere. I cannot stress enough how rare this is in the desert. It was a taste of the tropics. And not just one species. Each tree, bush or palm was filled with a vibrant community of spiders, linking webs in an almost arbitrary manner.

yerucham lake