A hidden world revealed
Digital cameras with ever-increasing power and quality - in the hands of amateurs, profesionals, children and adults - are producing a wealth amazing and delightful images of Australia's small creatures.
This guide to the spiders of Australia fills a much needed gap in the current library of naturalists, scientists, gardeners, farmers, students and the general public.
Everyone has a story about spiders and most people have an opinion about them. More and more the opinions are becoming favourable, as we learn nearly all spiders are harmless, and most are beneficial.
From arachnophobia to arachnophilia
Fear of spiders is learned. It is not innate. It is one of those fears waiting to be 'switched on' - or not - in early childhood. We learn it from adults around us who make the 'disgust' face when they see a spider.
Even though fear of spiders, or arachnophobia, is an acquired fear, it is still very real. Some arachnophobes have lived severely limited and tortured lives because of their phobia. The good news is arachnophobia can be unlearned. With careful desensitisation and a positive outlook the fear can be overcome, or even reversed. Spiders: Learning to Love Them by Lynne Kelly was published by Allen & Unwin in February 2009, telling the story of how Lynne overcame her very vivid night terrors by studying real life spiders in her garden. It took six months of close observations of the spiders around her house before the fear went completely. After the fear, came the fascination. Lynne still studies spiders and has got to know many of the world's leading arachnologists.
The spin on spiders
Spiders are the most successful terrestrial predators on Earth. They occupy virtually every possible habitat niche. They occupy a vital place in the food web, and without them we would be literally drowning in insects.
One of the most exciting and frustrating things about spiders is how many of them are yet to be described by science.