I hope you enjoy taking a closer look at some of the things I find interesting.
- North America (155)
- South America (171)
- Amphibians (10)
- Frogs and Toads (10)
- Arachnids (41)
- Fungi (3)
- Insects (215)
- Ants, Bees, Wasps and Relatives (44)
- Barklice (1)
- Beetles (27)
- Butterflies and Moths (55)
- Cockroaches (2)
- Dragonflies (1)
- Earwigs (1)
- Flies (20)
- Grasshoppers and Relatives (9)
- Mantids (3)
- Net-winged Insects (7)
- Termites (5)
- Thrips (1)
- True Bugs (57)
- Walkingsticks (1)
- Webspinners (1)
- Mammals (2)
- Millipedes (1)
- Polyxenids (1)
- Plants (3)
- Reptiles (13)
- Velvet Worms (3)
- Amphibians (10)
This reveal for Sign Challenge #1 is long overdue. Here’s the challenge photo again:
Commenter Daniel Heald correct guessed it was a spider egg sac. Here’s another angle:
When I took the photos, I assumed it was a cocoon. I was curious to see what moth would emerge, so I took it home with me.
After looking through Tracks & Sign of Insects and Other Invertebrates, I realized it was actually an egg sac for a Spinybacked spider (Gasteracantha cancriformis). In fact, I had seen many of those spiders in the area. The egg sac’s yellow silk, dark longitudinal line, and placement on the underside of a leaf all point to this species.
This thread-legged bug appears to be hanging in mid-air, but in fact it has delicately balanced itself on a spider web. Its beak holds a small spider that it must have just plucked from the center of the web.
Some thread-legged specialize in spiders, and I wonder if this might be one of them. Some are even known to lure the spider by plucking at the web like captured prey might.
When I first spotted this female Nephila clavipes, she was positioned rather low in her web. Her background was cluttered and shaded. I prodded her a few times, and as I’d hoped, she retreated to a higher position in her web where I thought I might be able to get a more pleasing background.
Unexpectedly, her quick movements drew the attention of a male that was also hanging out in her vicinity. I’ve read that males prefer to mate when the female is preoccupied with a meal (so they’re less likely to become a meal themselves). Perhaps he mistook her quick retreat as movement toward prey. At any rate, he wasted no time approaching her and getting into a mating position.
I’ve never quite been happy with any of the photos I’ve taken of this species, Nephila clavipes. This photo is no exception. I do like that it captures the gold color of the web, and that at least a few of the leg tufts are in focus.
It’s a shame the spider lost a leg somewhere along the way. The missing leg distracts me every time I look at her.
These spiders really are quite large. This one measured around 30mm, 70mm if you throw in the legs.
See if you can spot the little fly that’s perched on her abdomen.
Argiope spiders are easy to recognize. They sit head down in the center of their webs with their legs paired up. They don’t even bother to hide themselves during the day. They are among a relatively small number of orb weavers that add a decoration to their web, called a stabilimentum.
The form of the stabilimentum may change as the spider grows. Young spiders like this one may create a dense circular pattern as shown here. Older spiders are more likely to create sparser designs in various shapes.
One of my books (below) has a picture of a very similar looking spider identified as a spiny flag spider, Alpaida cornuta, also from Costa Rica. I wasn’t able to find anything online though using either the common name or the scientific name. The World Spider Catalog doesn’t seem to recognize that name at all, but I saw two species there from Costa Rica, A. bicornuta and A. championi. Perhaps this is one of those.
Here’s a similar looking unidentified Alpaida from Ecuador, so I think the genus is probably correct.
This spider was on an exposed ridge overlooking the sanctuary. She appears to have caught a nice sized wasp.
This species often creates an X-shaped design (stabilimentum) in their web, and you can just see a hint of one extending to the lower right.
The common name Silver Argiope is consistent with the scientific name (argentata = silvery). Even the common name in Portuguese, Aranha-de-prata, translates as Silver Spider. It is indeed silvery.