We were pleased to see a big orb web strung between palms, bananas and the cubby-house at the back of our garden towards the end of May.
Its architect, constructor and homeowner was resting, head down, in the middle of it. I introduced our three species of Golden Orb Weaver here so I don’t need to say much about her identity today except that she was an Australian Golden Orb Weaver, Nephila edulis.
This is the wattle I was on my way to photograph when the crash-landing cuckoo interrupted proceedings. It is a self-sown tree just inside the front fence which somehow avoided the weeder’s grasp long enough to be allowed remain and grow – slightly sideways – and thrive. We don’t know its lineage (and would welcome expert advice) but any tree that can put on displays like this is truly welcome.
While we’re on spiders, and particularly flower spiders, here’s another – in a setting which neatly demonstrates cause and effect in the food chain.
Our golden orchids flowered a few weeks ago and a purple one followed suit last week. The golden orchids are almost scentless (as far as I’m concerned, anyway) but the purple ones have a strong, sweet perfume which obviously attracts our (in)famous Queensland Fruit Fly, Bactrocera tryoni. There were always a dozen or more of these on the orchid spray, and they came to it last year as well although I don’t usually see them around the garden at all.
A careful look at the orchids revealed another kind of creature on them – flower spiders, there for the fruit flies. The brown one pictured was the bigger of two that I found; the other was the same species as the Flower Spider which caught the wasp, but a smaller individual. Both belong to the same family, Thomisidae, commonly known as ‘Flower Spiders’ and, perhaps mystifyingly, as ‘Crab Spiders’ but I haven’t got a more specific identity for the brown one yet.
Here’s the Thomisidae family description from Ron Atkinson’s Find-a-spider Guide, which incidentally explains the origin of the common names:
The body is small to moderate in size. The abdomen is somewhat large and more variable in shape than the cephalothorax. The legs are visibly spiny, especially the first two pairs which are very robust and curve forwards in crab-like fashion. The body colour may be white, green or brown to match the colour of the surfaces on which the spider is most likely to be found. The usual habitats are on leaves, in flowers or on/under bark. In the last of these habitats the spider’s surfaces are roughened to improve the camouflage.