Rare peacock spider photographed

Male Maratus nigromaculatus spider found near Gin Gin. Photo: Laurence Sanders

Showing off its magnificent bottom like a peacock with eight legs, a tiny spider species named after the bird has been caught on camera near Gin Gin.

Hobby photographer Laurence Sanders enjoys doing what terrifies most people and that’s getting up close and personal with spiders.

For a decade the railway worker and his wife Donna have been fascinated with photographing nature and their curiosity only grew once they discovered rare species of spiders were right under their camera bags and even on their front lawns.

Using a keen eye and his macro lens, which can reproduce small objects at up to 0.5x life size on a camera’s imaging sensor, Laurence has been able to capture photos of a rare spider, with a vivid blue abdomen known as the maratus nigromaculatus, at Gin Gin.

Laurence Sanders has a passion for photographing spiders.

Laurence said this species had only been recorded in Rockhampton and Brisbane before; he was chuffed with his find it in the Bundaberg Region.

“I know a fair bit about the peacock spiders,” he said.

“So far there are 74 known species of peacock spiders.

“I’m always looking up on the internet if more species have been found yet, because you never know.”

The couple live in Emerald and travel to the Bundaberg Region to visit family and capture photos of the unique spiders that live here.

Laurence said Donna had also seen a maratus nigromaculatus at Norval Park in the past and that kept them returning to the area year after year.

The peacock spider species

The nigromaculatus spider is part of the maratus genus family, it is commonly referred to as peacock spiders due to the males' colourful and usually iridescent patterns on the upper surface of the abdomen, which is often enhanced with lateral flaps or bristles that are displayed during the courtship dance between the male and female. 

The maratus species of spider have a high degree of sexual dimorphism, meaning the males are brightly coloured and the females are monochromatic or brown in colour.

With Laurence behind the camera zooming in nice and close, Donna will work her magic filming the intimate dance of the arachnids.

“If you find a male and a female and put them together you can watch the males put on a show and dance around like a peacock,” Laurence said.

“The females are hard to find and the boys go mad when they are near one.”

Laurence Sanders overcomes fear of spiders

Peacock spider so small it sits on top of a cotton bud tip. Photo: Laurence Sanders

Along with finding the maratus nigromaculatus in the Bundaberg Region Laurence has also been able to snap photos of the maratus purcellae species, possibly the smallest of the maratus species.

To give an idea of size Laurence took photos of this arachnid sitting on the end of a cotton tip and as you can see it’s quite small.

“These spiders are only 2mm in size,” he said.

Laurence said without the help of magnification it would be easy to miss the intricate colours and designs of the tiny spiders.

The 63-year-old grandfather said he used to be afraid of spiders but now that fear has turned to a craving to turn over every leaf to see what he can find.

“We have maratus species at home, but the area around Bundaberg is one of those places where you are just lucky enough to capture it,” Laurence said.

  • Laurence isn't the only person with a love for spiders, author Stephanie Jackson from Gin Gin features the unique wildlife including insects, of the Bundaberg Region in her latest book.