A lot of critters profiled on this blog have been from my workplace near Bommasandra, on the outskirts of Bangalore. We have a lovely little campus, with over two acres of area and less than a third of it built upon. The rest is filled with trees, lawns, and even little vegetable patches. Perfect for spotting critters of all shapes and sizes.
The problem though, is that we are located bang in the middle of an industrial area. Disturbingly frequent bad smells, sirens going off in the distance, and overloaded trucks always plying on the main road are the most routinely experienced consequences of the obviously well-regulated industrial area.
Behind our campus is a button factory. You know, an entire factory dedicated to making your teeny tiny buttons. Cute, right? NOT. Once every six months or so, I think they finish manufacturing large numbers of buttons and get them ready for the last round of processes: polishing. They polish the buttons by removing fine layers of plastic off the buttons… and into the air.
They stick on to everything. They get indoors, they mix in with the soil everywhere, all surfaces are spotted white… and they stick on to spider webs.
A spider’s web (especially when it’s an orb web, like the Argiope’s, above) works as a flytrap only because it’s all but *invisible* to flies and other insects. Once you stick big shiny wafers of plastic on the web, it kinda stops working.
Not all spiders go down without a fight though. Some Cyclosa spiders – this one likely being the Cyclosa spirifera (getting their first feature on TDC today) use the plastic to their advantage instead! Cyclosa spiders have been known to use litter, the remains of insects, dirt and just about anything to create blobs of gunk on their web, which act as decoys to the real spider should a predator attack.
The Cyclosa here promptly grabbed all the plastic stuck to its web and pulled it into the centre, as shown below, leaving the rest of its web remarkably clean. What could’ve starved the spider to death was instead used to improve its camouflage! All hail the mighty spider.
Continue reading “You live and you learn.”