Home Introduction SEM Tour Tour of the Laboratory Micrograph Gallery Contact & Links SEM Diaries


My choice of subject matter has, as was always the intention, been geared towards spiders and other arachnids, although I have also enjoyed studying other subjects as and when samples presented themselves. I currently have ten galleries. To access a particular gallery, click on the relevant thumbnail. To see individual pictures at larger scale, complete with a caption, click on that image. You can cycle through the other photos in the gallery by clicking on the forward and back arrows at the bottom of the individual image page.

To return from a single image to the individual gallery page, click on the cross at the top right of that page. To return to this page, click on the link near the top left of the individual gallery page.

Many of the micrographs include a data bar at the bottom that records the conditions under which the micrograph was taken, including a magnification. This magnification is accurate when the image is displayed on a 19” 5:4 ratio screen, but not when viewed on a laptop, tablet, phone etc. The scale bar is always correct.

In addition to these galleries there is now a complete sub-domain containing micrographs of key features of some British spiders. This can be accessed by following the link at the top of this page.

Sub-fossil Marine Material

This gallery shows photos of material excavated from either Syracuse in Sicily, or Sennen Cove in Cornwall. Help with identification of the specimens would be appreciated. These images have been processed in Adobe Photoshop® to suppress distracting backgrounds and to remove the data bar. The scale bar has been repositioned. (By sub-fossil I mean material that has not fully fossilised, because it is too young, or conditions were not right for fossilisation.)


The majority of these samples were prepared by simply brushing pollen from a flower directly onto a sticky carbon pad on an aluminium stub and then sputtering with gold, without any attempt to dry the grains. In some cases, distortion of the specimen may have taken place, although the images remain interesting. In one or two cases Low Vacuum mode has been used, where the pollen was placed in the chamber without sputter coating.

Arachnid Tarsi and a Leg

This gallery shows the structure of the feet or “Tarsal Claws” of various arachnids, almost all spiders, with one mite. There is also a view of a spider leg showing the structure of the many hairs.

Eyes and Heads of Spiders

This gallery illustrates the different arrangements of the eyes on different families of spider. Most species of spider have eight simple eyes, although some species have six. The number, relative size and disposition of the eyes are key identifiers to family level.

Fangs and Chelicerae of Spiders

Spiders catch their prey in jaw-like structures called chelicerae. These contain tooth-like nodules used to hold the prey and hollow fangs, through which the spider injects venom and other juices into its prey. The juices digest the muscle and guts of the prey which the spider then ingests through its mouth.

Pedipalps of Mostly Male Spiders

All spiders have “pedipalps” which resemble antennae or a 5th pair of legs, adjacent to the head. In mature males these are swollen and used for mating. The male spider will deposit a blob of sperm onto a web specially spun for the purpose and “suck” this into his pedipalps. On encountering a female the male will attempt to hook his pedipalps, one at a time, into the female’s epigyne, and transfer the sperm that way. The structure of the female pedipalp is much simpler than that of the male, and an example is included in the gallery.

Wasp Anatomy

A colony of Vespula germanica wasps took up residence in my roof space, and individuals would regularly find their way into my study. This provided a ready supply of material for the SEM. The images are of the wings, head, eyes, stings and egg-laying structures - I think!

Tick Anatomy

A local vet provided me with a selection of ticks, recently removed from a hedgehog. Various parts of the anatomy, in particular the barbs that help the tick latch onto the prey, make interesting micrographs.

Marine Diatoms

I was given a phial of cleaned fossil marine diatom material, by Klaus Kemp. The micrographs in this gallery are a selection made using that material. Any assistance in the identification of individual species would be much appreciated. Images are numbered to enable cross-reference. For details of how these diatoms were mounted for imaging refer to SEM Diaries - 10.


Even though not all spiders spin webs to catch their prey, all spiders do have spinnerets for the production of silk. These are located at the rear of the abdomen, adjacent to the anus. Apart from spinning webs to entrap prey there are a number of other uses for silk. These include: wrapping eggs, use as a parachute for “ballooning”, as an escape line, wrapping prey etc. etc.

Spiders - click here to be taken to the spider sub-domain