From an outsider’s perspective, Lisa van Kula Donovan is a very brave woman. But to Lisa, deadly spiders are her passion. The American-born Entomologist living in Hervey Bay, Brisbane, Australia currently owns 5 spiders in her house (she has owned up to 10 at a time) and she and her children play with them daily.
Lisa has one Golden Orb (Nephila) named Charlotte, one Isopedella species huntsman named Flip and three Holconia immanis huntsman (Giant Greys) named Cuddles, Mr Cuddles and Parker. “Cuddles is the largest, she’s a female and I thought that name would be funny for a spider that has a 16 centimetre legspan. Mr Cuddles is her boyfriend who I saved from my friend’s house before she sprayed it for insects and spiders. Hopefully they’ll have babies soon. And Parker is named after Peter Parker (Spiderman) because every time I hold him, he does the outstretched-leg Spiderman jump off my hand to get away. Flip just came to me, but she’s the chilliest one I have and will just sit on my arm,” says Lisa.
Lisa’s fascination with spiders really began when she moved to Australia eight years ago, but she remembers video taping a big wolf spider being wrapped up by a tiny barn spider years ago in the US and being fascinated such a small spider could take down a large one. Lisa has an entire room dedicated to insects in her house and Charlotte, the Golden Orb lives in a corner of that room. She has a huge web that Lisa throws crickets into. The huntsman’s all live in zippered and locked cages. They eat cockroaches, mealworms and crickets. Even though none of Lisa’s spiders have ever bitten her before, she has experienced the bite of a large wild huntsman.
Although Lisa can see how a lot of people might deem her ‘crazy’ for letting venomous spiders crawl on her, to people who understand spiders, the spiders Lisa owns are essentially ‘puppy dogs’ of the spider world. All photos belong to IMP Features.
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