Lurking in the Corner.


Perhaps the most common human interaction with spiders is how we run headlong into their webs. This happens most often with orb webs, as (obviously) a thin two-dimensional web spread across an empty space is most likely to go unnoticed even when we’re looking straight at it.

Sometimes, the saving grace is that you at least spot the spider before you spot the web. Not always, though.

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Some orb web spiders like building webs (why they love to build them at the same level as our heads is beyond me,) and then hiding at one corner of it. You won’t notice it on the first pass, but on one of the leaves anchored to the web is a silk sheath, and you just might find something hiding behind it.

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These spiders can be quite reluctant to see the light of day, but if you take a small stick or a blade of grass and slip it into the spider’s sanctuary, it jumps out and scrurries to a second hiding space – usually under another of the leaves attached to the web.

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This spider is an Araneus mitificus: also known as a Kidney Garden Spider. I’ve come across them a couple of times, and my guess is that the specimen you see above is gravid. They have a beautiful erm… posterior, with large variations in their marking from spider to spider. The underbelly is a brilliant, almost iridiscent green.

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The next time you see a large, empty orb web, try looking at everything that the web connects to. You’ll find a spider hiding somewhere. And this critter is worth taking the time to find.

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Lurking in the Corner.

When in Rome.


Hey folks. Guess who’s back in Wayanad again? In the spirit of visiting the land of paddy and banana and coffee, I thought I’d put up photos of a spider that I’d spotted here during my last visit.

When you’re in a place as fecund as Wayanad, you need to have a care on where you step, what you touch, and how you walk through. There I was, trying to lean against a column, only to find that there was a spider I brushed against, which promptly fell to the floor.

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Ornamental Tree-Trunk Spiders or Coin Spiders belong to the genus Herennia. Herennia multipuncta is the most prolific of them, and the only one not restricted to islands.

Building tiny webs, they happily sit in silken cups that they fashion for themselves. Not know too much about how they behave, I happily stuck my camera under their heads – only to figure out that their favourite flight response is to jump squarely down at the sign of the slightest trouble. :-/ Unless it’s a jumping spider, I’m still not comfortable having spiders jumping onto me. 🙂

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Note that the carapace patterns are not yet fully developed in the juvenile spiders above. They were not aggressive, just kinda goofy and kinda flighty. Like so many other spiders.

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Good night, y’all. And a hat-tip to Joseph KH Koh’s excellent guide to Singaporean spiders.

When in Rome.

It’s a Gender Equality thing.


I’m sure most of you would’ve read or heard about the beastly female spiders that devour their puny male mates after copulation, biting their heads off soon after they erm, serve their biological imperative.

While I can’t deny that it is – generally speaking – true, things aren’t quite as bad as that. Many male spiders survive at least 2-3 encounters with females. 🙂

Many male spiders are still tiny little squirts though – they make a great case study of sexual dimorphism in nature. The male Argiope spider is barely a quarter of the female’s size. And while the female is strikingly colourful, the male is a dull, featureless brown. Come mating season, they usually build secondary webs close to a female’s much larger, better web… and you know, just hang around.

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There’s no real punchline to this post, all that text was just build-up to what I thought was a pretty neat picture. 🙂 Thassal for today.

Continue reading “It’s a Gender Equality thing.”

It’s a Gender Equality thing.

Bee the fort!


A wall is only as strong as the bees that defend it.

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In Wayanad, Danesh showed me these funny little wasps/bees that didn’t sting, and made homes in curious little nooks and crannies.

These were furiously manning a little fort they’d made their own. Let no breach go unpunished!

I would really appreciate any ID help that I get!

Continue reading “Bee the fort!”

Bee the fort!

Portrait of a Jumper.


Jumping spiders are great fun to photograph, expressive as they appear to be. In my limited experience, I get a chance to see them more often in more man-made environments: desks, walls, indoors, and on my pants even. They’re far harder to get a-hold of on a plant or in a bush.

A most opportune time to catch them in the “wild” is when they’re getting set to molt. The disadvantage is that molting often happens at night, with the spiders prepping come late evening, so you need to find ’em by then and keep shooting.

I came across a female Two-Striped Jumper, Telamonia dimidiata earlier in the year. Twitchy little spider that she was, the photograph below is the best I could do before nightfall.

Jumping spider pre-molt

As night fell, the jumping spider found itself a leaf that it liked, and started building a protective web under it.

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The web was quite tough, and it seemed as if the spider felt really comfortable inside it. While the jumper continued to spin round and round and pace about its little bunker, it also allowed me to go in closer and shoot a lot better.

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I love the texture of Telamonia‘s carapace, and the red stripess running down its length.

Continue reading “Portrait of a Jumper.”

Portrait of a Jumper.

Misty Webbing Hop.


No matter where you are in the world, the next time you get up early on a weekend morning, especially after a dewy night: go out! Be it in the grasses or near the bottom of hedges or just about anywhere, you’re quite likely to find spider webs that are bursting with dewy goodness.

Trapdoor spider (The same?)

Spider webs provide an excellent surface for dew condensation (I’m guessing that there are lots of nucleation sites,) and it doesn’t matter if it’s an orb web, a three-dimensional web or a funnel web like that of the wolf spider above, they’ll stand out shining.

And if you pay enough attention, you’ll find the spider hidden underneath the waterdrops somewhere.

Continue reading “Misty Webbing Hop.”

Misty Webbing Hop.

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. ]

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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.”

A Time for Mothers.