A Time for Mothers.


The monsoon is High Spring for a lot of spiders and critters in India, odd as that may sound. You start seeing spiders in different stages of their life cycle, and you get snapshots of how things are in the whole birth-growth-death cycle.

Here’s a hunting spider, an Oxyopes spp. (brown, in contrast to their green cousins). When it’s their time of the year, the gravid female spiders cleverly weave silk strands along the length of a leaf tip, forcing the leaf to curl down and provide a nice little nook to store their eggs in. [“Gravid” is a fancy way of saying pregnant, when it comes to spiders. ]

Hunting spider with

I’ve mentioned before that hunting spiders are rangers, and they can lope quite fast on their long legs and stalk prey. However, once the female lays eggs, they sit themselves either on or close to the egg sac, protectively guarding it. It was the same this year as the last.

I’m not entirely sure how long the whole hatching process takes place, but spider growth is slightly different hatching chickens. Even after hatching, some spiderlings spend a few days within the egg sac/web, finishing a molt or two before they feel ready to leave and wander off. In the photo below you can see the first few spiderlings emerging from the nest.

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I’m guessing here, but I think the mother provides a few “stock” silk lines to a few nearby locations, and the spiderlings do the rest: they start producing their own webs and strands very early, and scamper off in different directions.

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Here’s a close up of the spiderlings. This is as much resolution I can get in the “wild” on my camera, I’m afraid.

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To the naive observer (i.e. moi) it’s interesting how spider mothers take on a very protective mantle: guarding the nest from marauding insects and the like, but they don’t really coddle the hatchlings at all, they’re left to figure things out on their own. I’m really curious to know how freshly hatched spiders “learn” how to spin webs and strands.

Continue reading “A Time for Mothers.”

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A Time for Mothers.

Long Live the Queen.


For the better part of the summer, a marvellous Green Lynx Spider (likely a Peucetia viridana) was living three feet outside my door. I’ve shared several pictures of her before, and it used to be a favourite pass time of mine to stand outside in late evenings and watch the Queen of Thorns sway with wind.

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Green lynx spiders are hunting spiders: they don’t jump around, they don’t build giant orb webs, but they do have a Ranger’s look about them: on the prowl with their long legs and infinite reach.

The spider just sat still on most occasions when I observed it, and I’m afraid I never really got to see it hunt. This one evening I got lucky though: in the photograph below the Peucetia‘s caught herself a grasshopper easily as big as her, and then some. By the time I saw it, the hapless insect had stopped struggling.

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The place where the spider rested was quite susceptible to strong winds and was only partially protected from the rain (and light rain at that), so she would often disappear on stormy evenings, and be back in her perch the morning after.

Some day late in July, she disappeared for good. We had a particularly stormy night, and I’m hoping that she skedaddled to safety.

Here’s looking at you, kid.

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Continue reading “Long Live the Queen.”

Long Live the Queen.

None shall pass.


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Remember the Green Lynx spider from before? Today’s critter is its close cousin, the Oxyopes, or the Lynx spider. Red or brown in colour instead of green, these critters are a bit smaller in size, and perhaps a bit more aggressive.

Here you see the maternal streak amongst spiders, with the mother sitting squarely on top of a set of unhatched eggs. Lynx spiders are hunting spiders, so they don’t go about building fancy webs or have elaborate escape plans. They hunt, attack and perhaps execute a strategic retreat when required.

Continue reading “None shall pass.”

None shall pass.

Pause for effect.


Last week, I had put up a picture of the Green Lynx Spider, the Peucetia viridana that I had come across in the Tamil countryside, some six months ago.

What I did not mention is that now, six months on, I am erm… raising one on my own. Extending my esteemed patronage, more like. You see, I have this little set of Tulasi plants growing just outside my front door. (Also known as tulsi, Ocimum tenuiflorum, or Holy Basil, for those unfamiliar with India.) For whatever reason, these tulasi plants seem to provide an excellent haunt for many spiders, and in my time I have observed and photographed four of them to date. The little green lynx being the most recent.

I wasn’t planning on introducing any of them till much later (I do have a whole stash of old photos to present, after all,) but this I had to show.

Amidst all the thunder and rain in Bangalore tonight, I saw the little critter climb up to the tip of the plant, turn around, pose for the portrait, scuffle about till it found the most invisible of silk strands that took it into the night.

26986481-Peucetia_viridana_Green_Lynx_SpiderAuf wiedersehen!

Continue reading “Pause for effect.”

Pause for effect.

Afterglow.


Peucetia viridana.

Have I mentioned before that I love spiders? And this one in particular. Spiders are intelligent, matriarchal and so very zen. Oh, and they’re hella pretty. The males are ready to lay down their lives for them, you know.

The Daily Critter proudly presents the Green Lynx Spider, Peucetia viridana. There’s not much I can say here, really. The lovely colours tell you all.

Continue reading “Afterglow.”

Afterglow.