Remembering Cyclone Yasi

It’s a year this week since Yasi crossed the coast between Townsville and Cairns, affecting both cities to an extent but devastating the smaller towns in between, especially Tully and Cardwell. It was the biggest cyclone ever to cross the Australian coastline, though perhaps not the most intense.

Our own memories of the event are of trepidation, anxiety, relief and a lot of inconvenience and hard labour. We spent hours beforehand preparing the house and yard, as best we could, for the wind and rain. We lost mains power halfway through the afternoon, cooked and ate dinner by gas stoves and lanterns, listened apprehensively as the wind built through the evening, and got as much sleep as we could during the night – which wasn’t much.

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A tough little spider

Brown spider on dead leaf
Basket-web spider, probably Cyrtophora exanthematica, on a macadamia leaf

I took this photo just a couple of days before cyclone Yasi arrived and made a real mess of much of north Queensland, including our garden. It shows a small brown spider nestled comfortably inside a dead Macadamia leaf, which in turn is suspended inside the spider’s loosely-woven basket-shaped web. Some people call it a ‘Double Tailed Tent Spider’, ‘double-tailed’ for the two rounded points of its abdomen and ‘tent’ for its web, but that just goes to show the inconsistency of common names.

Anyway, cyclone Yasi came and went, and I had more important things on my mind for a while than spiders. When I did start to take an interest again, the web was either still there or had been replaced in exactly the same spot, so I assume it’s the same individual spider.

She is still there now. Here is yesterday’s photo of her – standing in the middle of her web on the remains of one of her captures, a sap-sucking bug, Poecilometis sp.

Spider and prey amongst dead leaves
Living the good life, Cyrtophora style

Afterword, 7.7.11:
Checking on the web last week I saw that it had fallen into disrepair. It was even more dilapidated early this week and I decided that its inhabitant was no longer with us. Today brought confirmation, in the form of a new Paper-wasp nest amongst the web’s remnants:

Paper wasp nest in macadamia foliage
Paper-wasp nest in macadamia foliage