From a fiery red spider to a butcher with feathers: these are the five unexpected protagonists of the film “Our nature”

The spring fire spider, the Loch Ness monster from Lommel

In Lommel there is one of the last populations worldwide of a spider that onlycomes above the ground a few days a year. The spring fire spider, that’s thename of the hermit bug. The male is sexually mature after four years. It thenturns bright red and starts looking for a female, which stays underground forthe rest of her life.

The spring fire spider was only discovered in 2009 by Natuurpunt veteran KoenVan Keer and his brother, after the animal was declared extinct in our countryfor a hundred years. “After a report, we launched a search called Operation Nfor Nessie, the Loch Ness monster,” Van Keer recalls. “Everyone was lookingfor them, but no one found them. Until my brother saw one crawling under hisfeet just before we wanted to quit!”

The film features two scenes of the spring fire spider that have barely been> seen, and have never been filmed before

“It is a very beautiful animal with beautiful colors that was immediately veryhigh on my wish list”, adds “Our nature” cameraman Pim Niesten. “It’s kind ofan ambassador for spiders. Spiders are the underdog for me, the less valuedanimals I want to champion. Although I still wonder how I can get such a fathouse spider outside when one is walking around at home.”

The film features two scenes that are barely seen and never filmed before: afight between two males for a female, and a mating scene. That last scene inparticular was a lot of work. The cave in which the female burrows had to befully excavated and fitted with a glass wall so that filming could be done.

Pim Niesten at work for “Our nature”, up to his knees in water.

“And then you have to get a small ray of light in there,” Niesten continues.“I hung a microscope light above it. Fortunately, that didn’t bother thespiders, the romance was clearly still there (laughs).”

The makers do not want to say exactly where the spiders live, so as not todisturb the peace of the animals. “In Great Britain, where they are also veryinterested in the species, they are very secretive about it,” Van Keeroutlines. “On a study trip there, it was almost ‘Allo Allo’-like situations.The guide just didn’t say ‘ listen very carefully’ as she unfolded the mapof the locations in the pub, and looked over her shoulder to make sure no onewas listening.”