Guides to spiders, birds, and plants of Israel on the Internet


Stegodyphus lineatus copulation

From daily Haaretz in Israel:

Is it, or is it not, a Stegodyphus lineatus?

By Ofri Ilani

Israel is home to hundreds of kinds of spiders, but far fewer arachnid lovers.

This is not only because most people are disgusted by spiders, or are quite indifferent to them.

It seems the study of arachnids is a complicated and difficult hobby; only a small group of experts is able to identify spiders.

Efrat Gavish, 30, who is writing her doctorate on spiders at Ben-Gurion University, is one such expert.

Gavish has been interested in eight-legged creatures and their world since she was a child.

“I grew up in Arad, which is a paradise for insects in general and spiders in particular,” says Gavish.

Spiders, though arthropods and thus distantly related to (six-legged) insects, are not insects.

Extremely probably, Ms Gavish knows that, but her interviewer doesn’t.

“Spiders are fascinating creatures, because, among other reasons, of the variety of ways in which they hunt.”

One problem is that, until now, no comprehensive guide to spiders existed in Israel.

Gavish says that students who wanted to identify spiders had to capture them and send them to experts to be identified.

For a few years now, Gavish has been compiling a broad database on Israeli spiders.

Last month, she launched it on the “Spiders in the Web” Web site (http://spiders.gois.co.il).

“There is information on spiders in Israel,” explains Gavish, “but the purpose of the site is to make this information accessible, so that anyone interested can learn more about the spiders he sees.”

In order to determine a spider’s species, it must be examined with a magnifying glass.

First, one has to differentiate between spiders with six eyes and spiders with eight eyes.

Then one has to check if the eyes are arranged in two, three or more rows.

Thus visitors to the site can progress from one stage of identification to the next, and finally ascertain whether the spider is a Stegodyphus lineatus, for example, or a Thomisus onustus.

Over the past year, a number of Israeli online guides have been launched, providing information and offering surfers a way of professionally identifying Israeli plants and animals.

Behind these initiatives are a few nature buffs who are interested in sharing their knowledge with the vast community of Internet surfers.
Basra reed warbler
There are a few good sites dedicated to Israeli birds, including two in English that are mainly designed for bird-watching tourists: birdingisrael.com, operated by the Center for Birdwatching at Kibbutz Lotan in the Arava desert, and israbirding.com.

About six months ago, a Hebrew Web site – www.zapar.co.il – joined their ranks; the site posts new sightings of rare species, and is attracting a community of ardent bird-watchers.

These sites may be intended for experienced bird-watchers, but they include impressive photos that would interest even those who do not habitually wander about with binoculars around their necks.

The sites also feature rare birds from distant places.

Increasing public awareness

In contrast, www.yardbirds.org.il focuses on birds that nest near our homes; those birds that most of us see on a daily basis. …

Plant lovers have their own Internet guide, which is actually quite comprehensive.

The guide, devoted to Israeli flora, is operated by the Hebrew University at http://flora.huji.ac.il, and is based on a database compiled by Prof. Avinoam Danin, one of Israel’s top botanists.

Salticid spiders: here.

Cave spiders in England: here.

Jumping spiders and moths: here.

Where to see migrating animals in the USA: here.

9 thoughts on “Guides to spiders, birds, and plants of Israel on the Internet

  1. I never understood people’s fears of spiders. Spiders do so much good. Some people just have irrational fears. I thnink it makes sense to fear immediate danger, but to fear some animal you rarely cross seems excessive. I think they are beautiful. I have one in my garden, whose always crawling in my

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