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.

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When in Rome.

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!

Five for the critters hiding in plain sight.


More critters from Wayanad!

Today’s offering is a small butterfly: the Common Fivering, Ypthima baldus. A Hat-Tip to Danesh for being an amazing spotter. I thought my skills at spotting critters were good, but hot damn!

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It used to irk me that the number five was somehow discriminated against. Not mysterious enough?

Continue reading “Five for the critters hiding in plain sight.”

Five for the critters hiding in plain sight.

Reaching for the sun.


Even gastropods have dreams, it seems. Though slugs and snails have no true eyes to speak of, what few light-sensitive cells they have on the tips of their tentacles lead them on, towards the light.

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Slugs are so delicate and with defenses so few that it feels like a miracle that they exist at all.

This is but the first of many critters I managed to capture in Wayanad. With more to come over the next few days and weeks. A Hat-Tip to RASTA for hosting us and a big shoutout to the lovely campus that they have.

Continue reading “Reaching for the sun.”

Reaching for the sun.

The Daily Vichitra.


There are a small group of spiders belonging to the genus Phonognathawhich not only build big orb webs, but also tie up a leaf right in the middle and curl it over – forming a safe little hovel for themselves.

27704319-Phonognatha_vicitra27704320-Phonognatha_vicitra_2Only one Australian species, the Phonognatha graeffei or the Leaf curling spider, is well-studied extensively documented and photographed on the web. The rest of the species are not.

The Daily Critter proudly presents the first and only pictures of the Phonognatha vicitra that are available today on the world wide web!

With only one known Phonognatha species outside Australia/Oceania, the Phonognatha vicitra was discovered by one W. R. Sherriffs back in 1928. With only a paltry 286 hits on a Google websearch, there’s nothing on the web regarding the species apart from taxonomic references, let alone photographs.

I came across this spider in a small town called Kambalakkad in Wayanad, Kerala. Having seen quite a few leaf-dwelling [1] spiders before, I did not pay it as much attention as I probably should have. I was also quite new to using flash with macro photography back then, which probably explains the rather mediocre quality of the above two pictures. The latter of the two pictures illustrates the orb web of the spider fairly well.

Vicitra is a quaint English spelling of the Sanskrit word vichitra, which is also found in several other Indian languages, including my native Kannada. As spoken Kannada goes, vichitra is an adjective with a range of meanings: from a non-judgemental ‘exotic’ to a pejorative ‘weird’. Sherriffs used it for naming a spider some eighty years ago, and it appears to be an oddly appropriate descriptor for the blog as well.

Exotic at best, weird at worst. 🙂

Continue reading “The Daily Vichitra.”

The Daily Vichitra.