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

Wolves of Limmen

I had no idea when we set out that I would spend an evening spotlighting for wolves in Limmen, but that’s what happened.

Wolf spiders, that is. (There are no real wolves in the park, although we did see a dingo; feral cattle, buffalo and donkeys, too.) Wolf spiders are “mostly robust, agile hunters, active by day or night, common across all of Australia,” to quote Whyte and Anderson. Most of them wear drab camouflage colours and live on the ground in leaf litter or temporary retreats.

Spotlighting for wolves

Karl, our host at Nathan River, introduced us to the art of spotlighting: if you hold a torch up at eye level (a head torch is ideal), the eyes of roaming wolf spiders will shine back at you like little diamonds.

It works! The key is having the torch close to your own eyes so that the light reflected from theirs comes back along the same path. But the effect is impossible to photograph because there isn’t enough light on the scene, and adding light makes the background brighter than the eye-shine. (There’s a challenge here for obsessive nature photographers. Perhaps it could be done with a macro lens, a flash unit, lots of patience and co-operative wolves.) In real life, one squats down beside the wolf and uses a torch and flash for a photo.

wolf spider in leaf litter
Wolf spider in leaf litter

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Butterfly Falls

Butterfly Falls camping area is not far south of Limmen’s Nathan River ranger station. The falls are at their best in the Wet but never quite stop, and the beautiful pool is the only croc-safe permanent swimming hole in the park.

Butterfly Falls - dry season
Butterfly Falls, only a trickle in August, and their pool

We spent half a day there on our (slow) way north from Southern Lost City.

The camping ground is only a short walk from the swimming hole. Purely as a campsite it’s actually more congenial than SLC because it has permanent water which of course supports lush vegetation, which supports more wildlife…

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A nature walk on Mt Stuart

The summit of Mt Stuart is, as I noted years ago, a very odd habitat – very exposed, with a thin layer of poor (and poorly-drained) soil over granite – so its plant and animal life is equally unusual. Wildlife Queensland visited ten days ago, on one of its monthly excursions, and had so much to see in the first half of the planned walk that they (we, in fact) decided they would have to return another day for the second half.

We walked from the lower carpark down to the edge of the cliffs which face NE over Cluden and Cape Cleveland, offering wonderful views, and spent a lot of time among the boulders along the edge of the cliff.

WQ members on Mt Stuart
Some of the WQ members on Mt Stuart

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