Posts Tagged ‘prey’

In the Rock Pile

Rocks edged all my gardens until I reduced the number of gardens and made a pile with the rocks.

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Obviously, spiders like the rock pile. The spiders living among the rocks are wolf spiders (which have a painful bite.)

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I wish I could’ve seen the spider spin this web. It’s so graceful in its simplicity.

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Some spiders will wait for passing prey in or near the mouth of the burrow.

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Taking their picture poses a problem too … they usually stay down in their tunnel.

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They do tend to blend in with their surroundings.

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Their drab coloring makes them difficult to see. They depend on camouflage for protection.

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They are nocturnal. All the webs in my rock pile are taken down every morning  and rebuilt later in the day.

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I never did get a good look at this spider … so I was never sure if this was an abdomen or egg sac.

The female carries her eggs in an egg sac, which is attached to her spinnerets. The newly-hatched young climb up on her back and stay there until they’re big enough to be on their own. I haven’t seen one with an egg sac or with young.

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A Morning Surprise … a Big Surprise!

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   I recently started going for mornings walks around our backyard about 7 a.m. to look for spider webs.

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   Then Sunday morning (October 3) I woke to a dense fog. It didn’t take me long to get outside with my camera. I couldn’t see the back of the yard from the house. We have two acres.

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Obviously, there were the “common-shaped” webs. I found ones in all sizes, from the small  ones to ones from three feet in diameter.

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Some weren’t completely finished. This one looked like it came apart near the center.

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This web was in the magnolia tree. It looks like a tangled “mess” that would capture prey.

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How can this web hold its shape with all the multi-sized drops lining every strand?

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I wonder how long silk will remain from the web.

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I saw a few webs like this one up to three feet tall.

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This web is designed to capture insects that enter the separated area.

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I wondered if this web was completed or if it was what remained.

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The hackberry tree above appeared practically covered with webs, especially at the top.

These are only a few of the 240 pictures I took that morning!

What I don’t understand now is, “where did all the spiders go?” Where had all the spiders been before this web-a-thon?  I only found three webs the next morning and one this morning.

Assassin Bugs

I went out in the middle of November to look for lichens to photograph and found this young bug on the bark of an oak tree.

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 It was a half-inch long at most. My first thought was an assassin bug because of its long beak.

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I started through my files of insect pictures and found this picture. It too has the long beak.

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Wheel bugs are an assassin bug too.

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They use their long beak to inject their prey with venom.

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I still have no definitive answer as to the species of assassin bug in the first picture.

The mystery continues.

An Ambush Bug

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I found a tiny ambush bug on a black-eyed susan flowerhead on July 23.

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It only measured a half-inch long.

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The shape of its head, the weird shape of its body,

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the buggy eyes and shape of its front legs

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mades it interesting from any angle.

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Its front legs act as pincers to hold prey. It then inserts its short beak and sucks out body fluids.

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They even prey on insects as big as bumblebees, butterflies and wasps.

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The last picture was taken yesterday on July 28th. I couldn’t find it this morning on the 29th.

Thistles … Have Visitors?

What was this crab spider thinking? How did it even get on the tip of this thistle bud?

How can prey get to it?

Thistles have bloomed for a while out in the middle of my weed patch because there’s more sun light there. I’ve been watching the shorter ones growing on the south side of the weed patch. They are getting more sunlight now that the sun’s moving farther south.

The pattern on the buds looks like it’s been stitched, and I’ve photographed it often.

Only tiny insects could crawl around on these plants.

The words hostile environment come to mind.

I checked the spider in the evening, and it was gone. I assumed it lowered itself on a strand of silk … wonder if it lowered itself onto the bud in the first place?

These pictures are from the next evening.

This one was on a different bud. It didn’t like the attention, and

it did a quick side-step, angling downward. It also angled its body outward.  I assumed this posture was meant to threaten me by making itself look bigger.

Then it resumed its patient-waiting position.

I didn’t see the tiny jumping spider at the base of this bud until I saw the picture on the computer. Obviously, thistles have more activity around buds than I expected, and will have even more when they bloom.

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Then I found more interesting things around the thistles this evening. (the next night).

This spider’s pale coloring and faint markings makes me think it recently molted.

Three of the thistles changed dramatically in the last 24 hours. If you look close, about a third of the way up, you’ll see a tiny darkish winged insect.

The prey here looked like maybe a beetle. It was a 16th of an inch at the very most.

An Odd Behavior

They don’t call skippers “skippers” for nothing; they can “skip” away so fast I don’t see them go.

So, when I went in close to take a picture and the skipper stayed there, I knew something was going on.

My suspicions were correct; it was prey to a crab spider. Crab spiders can change color to match the color of the flower they’re on. They ambush their prey, inject it with venom to immobilize it. They then feed until the victim is sucked dry.

The victim was a male fiery skipper (Hylephila phyleus). Their wingspan measures 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches.

 When I went out after supper, the skipper lay on the ground. I twisted the stem of the salvia to see the spider. Females are much bigger than the males.

Cute … for a Spider

I chuckled when I saw this crab spider “staring” back at me. There’s the “hat” design, its face and even suspenders. The hat and face are on its abdomen and the suspenders on the thorax.

How cute!

It was patiently waiting for insects to visit the thistle flowers for a nectar meal.

I’m sure prey wouldn’t see any humor in the situation.