All the Small Things! Arachnids and Insects of the local Perth Area

DRB FEBRUARY 2020 Meeting

The first talk of 2020 for the Darling Range Branch was kicked off by an extremely talented family of photographers, Paul and Joshua Irvine.

Paul Irvine is a macro-photographer who loves nothing better than to explore the great outdoors on the lookout for species of arachnids such as Maratus (the peacock spiders), wolf spiders, orb weavers and huntsman, as well as other invertebrates such as ants, toad bugs and paradise flies.

Paul’s love of nature can be traced back to the 70’s, when as a young man he loved watching Harry Butler and others of his ilk, out in the wild, tackling crocs and what not. His love of spiders sprouted from an unusual place. Living in State housing, he was accustomed to life with an outhouse ‘dunny’, which many may remember housed a plethora of arachnids and creepy crawlies. Young Paul delighted in the many legged visitors creeping out of the toilet roll, whilst on the other end of the spectrum his brother developed an abject fear of spiders.

His parents’ Super 8 film and Kodak Instamatic made a strong impression on him at a young age. In his first job as a divemaster, Paul started getting to know nature through the lens of an SLR Camera. Paul’s underwater photography led him to look at the small things under the sea with his trusty, Nikonos underwater camera. He learned the joys of exploring and identifying. He was hooked. Moving out of the water and onto land, he moved on to the realms of the DSLR, taking delight in capturing lightning, weather photography and native terrestrial orchids, which led him back to his love of insects and arachnids under a macro lens.

In 2014, he found his first peacock spider which would prove to become his passion. In 2016, he discovered an undescribed, new-to-science, species of Maratus which was then named Maratus gemmifer (published in 2017) at Karnup Reserve in Baldivis. The “addiction” of finding and learning about these Maratus has led him to meet many experts from the WA Museum, Project Maratus from NSW, Victoria and even Germany, the University of Hamburg, with entomologist Joseph Schubert. His photography of the Maratus is incredible, especially of Maratus hortorum (named in Jean and Fred Horts honour) depicting the beautiful colours and two dots of these amazing creatures. Macro photography requires a good eye. The 3mm tiny juvenile Maratus spicatus amongst the beach sand grains. This kind of macro photo hunting requires a know-how of where to find these tiny fellows, the patience of snapping for hours on end, bent over building “glutes you can bounce $2 coins off”!

Paul passed on many safety and practical tips for DSLR photography to our members and shared his 12 year old son Joshua’s incredible photos, already a prodigious talent. Paul’s passion and skill are infectious, inspiring many of us to look a little longer at the small worlds around us.

Kay Greenacre

Poem for Paul
… Caught in the Ogre’s Eye …
The daily burn, daily regrown a mending of membranes
those tremendous eyes capturing the low light,
eyes aperture f.08, in the night crisp and full
to burn brightly through another day.
Deinopis subrufa.

Kay Greenacre