Sheep in wolf’s clothing.


A long time ago, I’d made a mention of the Weaver Ants, with a vague mention of their ruthless ways. Nasty, belligerent creatures always ready to bite, I’d have to admit that they’re quite clever as well. I am yet to see some of their best work in person, but together they can build living bridges, pull up large leaves and twigs to build their own lairs, all the while looking damnably smug.

Weaver ants.

Alone they are far from invincible, but in rank they are quite imperial in their abilities. Last winter, my backyard had a variety of critters, all occupying little nooks and corners of their choice. Some were partial to the remnants of a curry leaf tree, some lived on the trunk of coconut trees, and others stuck to the ground.

Almost all of them disappeared once the weaver ants started making inroads. The ants went after cobwebs, into crevices in the wood, into every hidey hole that other critters were seeking refuge in. Between the ants and the coming summer, all other critters in my backyard dwindled or disappeared altogether. That’s one of the reasons why you may not have seen any recent posts from my backyard.

Below you can see one denizen being carted away by a squad of weaver ants. They are quite gifted in their skill at teamwork, to transport an insect much larger and heavier than themselves, and on a wire, no less. They would quickly roll over to the far side of the cable if I went in closer with my camera. And all the while, they did it with a flair and an ease that would cause envy even amongst the finest furniture movers.

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There are a few long cables and nylon ropes that run along the length of my backyard, and I’d often find many varieties of ants scurrying across its length. On one day I found one that was a bit slower than the usual, not quite as furtive, and more accomodating of my camera.

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It’s only after I started looking at the photographs on my computer did I realise that something didn’t feel right. The ant felt wrong in some ways. The colour was a bit off, and there was something about the eyes and the shape of the body that didn’t quite add up.

Only then I realised that this was no ant, but a spider! And a very clever one at that. Waving about its two front legs like antennae, the spider moved only on six legs. Its body structure also felt a little warped as it had adapted the usual head-thorax-abdomen arrangement of a spider to the four-part body of an ant.

One lucky shot of the “ant” amidst the cables confirmed it. Of all possible things, this was yet another jumping spider!

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The rest I’ll talk about on the morrow. 🙂

Continue reading “Sheep in wolf’s clothing.”

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Sheep in wolf’s clothing.

Jumping mysteriously.


Remember the jumping spider from before? (You know, the one I blasphemously likened to kittens.) Menemerus bivittatus, yes. Now you remember.

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Turns out that they are really skilled at crypsis, blending in completely with their environment. It’s tiny to begin with (about 8 mm end to end, if I  were to guess) and they are really hard to spot on the trunk of a coconut tree, which I found they prefer.

Anyhou, no big lecture today, so I hope you liked the snap. Do come back on the morrow, though.

 

Continue reading “Jumping mysteriously.”

Jumping mysteriously.

For the want of a better title.


Hiya folks. Hiya hiya hiya. I just got back from a bitchin’ visit to Sri Lanka. (Pardon my French) I’ve been traveling for the past 12 hours (and was on a scooter for two hours before then!), so I may be a little tired.

So without much fanfare, I give another of the critters that crawl around in my backyard, an Orchard Spider, genus Leucauge.

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Continue reading “For the want of a better title.”

For the want of a better title.

Simon says Jump.


It’s a bit odd that I am posting my first picture of a Jumping Spider (family Salticidae) here on TDC today. This is a snap from back in November, that I had also shared earlier on Facebook.

Anyhou, jumping spiders are among my favourite critters. They are a bit hard to capture on my mid-level camera, in spite of their apparent curiosity and doe-eyed innocence. They’re tiny, they’re twitchy and boy are they adorable.

I found this particular critter on the trunk of a cocunut tree in my backyard. I’ve only identified it recently as a Grey Wall Jumper or the Menemerus bivittatus.

28336459-Menemerus_bivittatusI CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER?Don’t you dare discriminate against the four eyed. Or the six or the eight. They can have their cheeseburgers too.

Continue reading “Simon says Jump.”

Simon says Jump.

Quest for a Rose.


So you’re an ant. A worker ant at that. Doing what you are really good at. Working, that is. In this case, it would be harvesting a fallen coconut flower. Hardly a hotly-contested meal, by anyone’s guess.

And when you see the approach of a seriously badass caterpillar, lusting after the same food-y bits on the flower, you would discover how WRONG you were.

27519446-All_for_a_flowerThe caterpillar was nastier, but the ants were faster, fortunately. They skedaddled in seconds.

Continue reading “Quest for a Rose.”

Quest for a Rose.