Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Fighting Spider

Ahhh, the memories...
When I was a kid growing up in Kuala Lumpur, I remember spending my afternoons trying to catch the fighting spider (Thiania bhamoensis) or Phau Foo in Cantonese from overgrown shrubs and creepers in abandoned buildings.
I followed my childhood friends Wah Chai and his brothers Ah Nor and Ah Nong around the Jalan Raja Bot area and spent our time in spider derbies at a Chinese Temple in Jalan Haji Hussein.
It takes some skills to spot the jumper that made its lair in between leaves.
The spider skilfully constructs its habitat with its silk and can be spooked easily when startled.
One way of looking for it is by placing the leaf under the sunlight.
Once a shadow is casted, the leaf is carefully removed and kept in a matchbox or a cough lozenges tin.
With a life expetancy of anywhere between three weeks to a month, the spider is fed water and 'live' food like ants and houseflies.
Spider derbies would take place during the short term holidays.
Two spiders, mostly males, would be pitted against each other.
A display of prowess and strength is shown as both arachnicds locks in battle.
In the short display of aggression, the victor will vanquish the loser that runs away for cover..
Well, what I am telling you, is a tale that is three decades old.
Nowadays, the fighting spider remains as a memory from a distant past...

A full body shot of the Thiania bhamonensis
Capture on camera
I must say that the Thiania is one of the hardest specimen to photograph.
Unlike most jumpers, this one has a flat head and a very low-profile abdomen.
Its hard to spot in the wild and if you can score a shot of the jungle-dwelling Thiania, its a bonus because its marking is just amazing!
So far, I've only been able to capture a few set and my recent visit to the Sungai Tua nature park in Selangor, I managed to get a close-up shot of the Thiania.

Face to face with a warrior
I think there's still plenty room for improvement when it comes to capturing the Thiania in its full glory...
Hopefully, I would be able to catalog more fighting spiders as I intensify my hunt for them...


Found this little fellah around my office (taken in February 2010)

Shot with my MR14EX ringflash in Bukit Tinggi, Pahang

My most recent capture in December 2011, Sg Tua nature park, Selangor

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