Last Friday I travelled to Bu-gok (부곡), about 45 minutes drive outside Daegu, to practice straw cutting with my komdo teacher. The barn where we cut is on a farm and wandering around I discovered some enormous spider webs belonging to what is probably the most prolific spider in Korea, the Sorcerer or Shaman spider (mu-dang – 무당). In English it has several names including the Golden Banana Spider and Joro Spider. Its Latin name is nephila clavata.
The numerous spiders on these webs were neither as large nor colourful, possibly as it is right at the end of their mating season and the end of autumn. Their webs however, were not just large, 3 meters across, but densely intertwined. The genes of the mu-dang have been used in genetically cloning silk worms in order to produce stronger silk. Only the female carries the red marking and apart from being larger than the male, she has cannibalistic tendencies after mating.
©Amongst Other Things – 努江虎 – 노강호 2012 Creative Commons Licence.
October 2010. The Shaman Spider
October 2010. Shaman Spider Webs
I’ve had an infection or ‘red-eye’ and haven’t been able to use the gym or bathhouse so instead I’ve been walking up Warayong Mountain (Wikipedia location) in Song-So.
I noticed a wasp nest on a tree and watched it over several mornings. These wasps are much smaller than European ones.
This is the shaman spider (무당 거미), which is often translated as ‘sorcerer.’ In English it is known as the golden banana spider or joro spider (nephila clavata). ‘ It probably measured about three inches long and can inflict a mildly painful but non-deadly bite. Autumn signals the mating season for spiders and these beautiful, if not scary looking specimens are also cannibalistic. The female is larger than the male and has red markings towards the back, underside of her abdomen.
The web was about 4 feet across and slightly yellow in colour and at one point I walked into a supporting strand. It did not break and I noted at the time how resilient it was. Apparently, genes from this spider have been injected into silk worm cocoons and as a result they subsequently produce a much stronger silk. This product is being launched on the market, in the form of extra durable socks, in 2010.
© Nick Elwood 2010 Creative Commons Licence.