Some pretty little spiders

On a recent visit to Hervey’s Range I was lucky enough to see a lot of small spiders. Many of them were unusual or attractive enough in themselves, or in what they were doing, to merit Green Path immortality, so here they are.

Most of them are small enough in real life to sit on a 20-cent piece without dangling their feet over the edge. Clicking or tapping on the small images will take you to images far larger than life size.

The mother-to-be

green spider with egg sac
Northern Lined Hygropoda

iNaturalist and both think “Northern Lined Hygropoda” is the common name for this small spider, Hygropoda lineata. I don’t think it even has a common name although the species is very common.

This adult female is arched protectively over her eggs.

The hairy crab

small hairy spider on leaf
Hairy Crab Spider

The well-named Hairy Crab Spider, Sidymella hirsuta, is an ambush hunter which rests on foliage with its front legs outstretched to capture unwary visitors.

We see its its smooth white relative the Spectacular Crab Spider (Thomisus spectabilis) much more often in most locations.

The spiky hunter

spiky spider on leaf
Northern Lynx Spider

Lynx spiders are also ambush hunters, and they are not much bigger than the Crab spiders. We have two very abundant local species (this one, Oxyopes papuanus, and the Lean Lynx, O. macilentus). There are others, too, all much the same in size, coloration and spikiness.

The Happy Hunter

orb-weaver with bundled prey
Northern St Andrew’s Cross Spider

St Andrew’s Cross spiders are mid-sized orbweavers very much at home in our gardens. There are several similar species; this one is the ‘Northern’ one, Argiope aetherea.

I’m not sure what she has caught but it isn’t getting away and it’s a substantial meal for her (definitely ‘her’, by the way, because the males are tiny and brownish).

The invisible orb-weaver

spider camouflaged in prey debris
Cyclosa close-up

Spiders in the genus Cyclosa make orb webs with a cross-bar of rubbish, mostly the remains of prey, and then rest in the middle.

Their bodies are slim, their legs lie alongside their abdomen and head, and their coloration matches the debris. Result: invisible spider – or so they hope, because invisibility is their only defence against predators.

How big are they? The cross-bar is about as thick as a big grass stem.

The juggler

orb-weaver repairing web
Giant Golden Orbweaver

The species is ‘giant’ by name and adult females earn the name but this is a young one. Pulling one’s web back together after damage is a challenge, even with eight legs.

More pretty little spiders

An older post (2016) featuring spiders from the same location – two of the species included above, and one more.

Pretty little spiders

Bugs and the wilderness garden

Two good books which approach organic gardening from different directions came my way recently. They are far from new but they are still in print so they deserve a mention.

Jackie French’s The Wilderness Garden (Aird Books, 1992/2007) was welcomed enthusiastically after a quick look. The Introduction begins, Beware of the gardens of the righteous! Or, ‘How never to weed, feed or dig your garden again.’ How can anything bad follow that?

Tim Marshall’s Bug: the Ultimate Gardener’s Guide to Organic Pest Control (ABC Books, 2010) impressed me immediately, too, because his introduction to our small wildlife was so lucid and positive.

Bug: the Ultimate Gardener’s Guide to Organic Pest Control

cover of 'Bug'Tim Marshall has been a leader in Australia’s organic gardening movement for decades and has written a book for any organic (or want-to-be-organic) gardeners needing to know more about the bugs in their garden.

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Blackouts and batteries

Cyclone Kirrily’s brief visit last Thursday (January 25) left about a third of Townsville without power for a few days, throwing us on whatever off-grid resources we had. Here at Green Path HQ we put Off-grid but not by choice into practice. I’m happy to report that it worked pretty well, but we were very glad to get power (and air-con!) back after only 36 hours.

We shared that blog post on social media in the hope that it would help others and received useful tips in return. Here I want to share and expand upon a comment from Michael Crozier, “Cordless tool companies are just starting to bring out 18V-DC to 240V-AC inverters. Not as powerful as your power station, but great if you already have lithium-ion power tools anyway.”

It was a good thought and prompted me, with his collaboration, to take it further.

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William Gibson’s Jackpot

William Gibson burst onto the SF scene with Neuromancer in 1984 and never looked back. He now has a dozen novels and a nonfiction collection to his name.

book cover PeripheralHis visions of the future have always tended to be dark and edgy. Here I’m interested in his two latest novels, The Peripheral (2014) and its sequel Agency (2020), primarily for the ‘Jackpot’ which is pivotal to both. His earlier work falls into trilogies (see Wikipedia for details of the Sprawl, Bridge and Blue Ant trilogies) and a sequel to Agency may be on the way. He apparently intended to call it Jackpot so let’s call the two-and-a-promise ‘the Jackpot trilogy.’

The Peripheral is very good indeed although Agency juggles too many characters and timelines to be completely satisfactory. The recent TV series, by the way, is only loosely based on the first novel. Continue reading “William Gibson’s Jackpot”

A star rating for roadside stops

We idly began to develop a system of star ratings for roadside stops on our long trip to Limmen NP in August last year. (It was something to do when there wasn’t enough traffic to sustain numberplate scrabble.) Our recent trip to Blackdown Tableland NP, near Emerald, offered plenty of time to refine it.

view of country road
One star on the Downs

The ratings

* It’s off the road, and that’s all. Just a safe place to pull over, often a simple one-lane widening of the bitumen for a hundred metres.

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