Sunday, September 27, 2009

Spider Silk Tapestry

Here's an amazing story about a tapestry made from the silk of a million spiders from Madegascar!

The article includes a video, but I had problems viewing it for some reason. I did find the same video on YouTube below.

Camo girl mates again!

This is what was happening above my front door late last night before I went to bed. Camo girl and the californica male were still together (and I do mean together this time!) with a limbata male looking for a piece of the action.

8am today: confirmation that, yes, they were actually mating. The curious onlooker was gone.
An hour later, the californica male was gone too. (not eaten, just gone)

Camo girl is now in a mesh container, where I will feed her and keep her until she makes another egg case. If she does, will the second egg case have a different father than the first? One might think so, but how do we know that the sperm from the first mating doesn't block out or invalidate any subsequent sperm? And what about the fact that the first mating was with a male of a different species? It will be interesting to see what the nymphs look like next spring.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Camo girl: Love on the rebound

Finally, just before 4:pm, Camo girl and her lover finished mating. I checked on them and found the male on the porch steps. Still in one piece, ready to fly away. I held him for a moment, then let him go.

He took off across the yard and landed on a bush. A mockingbird was nearby and noticed him, but I ran across the yard after him, and shooed the bird away. Then I put Mr. Mantis in a little cage to keep him safe from the birds until after dark.

Meanwhile, within minutes of male #1's departing, #2 (the californica) hopped right aboard for a little snuggling. He couldn't mate with her now, as she carried the sperm of the other, but he held on tight anyway.

And this is what we came home to after our ballgame tonight. #2 still mounted, apparently having clung to her all evening while she layed eggs! This is right over our front door.


Here is the male S. Californica, on the other side of the porch light from where Camo Girl and the S. Limbata are still joined in holy mantrimony. (haha)
I have suspected that these 2 species sometimes mate with eachother, but I don't know what happens to the eggs or the babies. I'll have to hang onto Miss Mrs. Camo, and save her egg case and see what comes of it.

Mantids on my porch

A couple of lookalike bachelors from the other night.

Fuzzy face. Must have just eaten a porch moth.

Yesterday, I pulled Camo Girl out of the rosebush and stuck her on the porch, where she hung out all day, while the males all left. But after dark, some came back...

This morning: Camo girl mating with one of the S. limbata males.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bachelor hangout

Sorry, no pictures. It's late and I just don't feel like messing with them, but I just wanted to report that there are 4 male mantids hanging around my porch light right now. 3 green S. Limbata and 1 brown S. californica. No ladies in sight. The californica camo-girl is in the bushes in my yard though. I saw her this morning. No telling where that big wild limbata is, though. I just hope one of these fellows finds her and lives to do the deed so she can lay eggs in my yard.

Monday, September 21, 2009


I had been watching one particular flower bed at the arboretum hoping to find a crab spider, since I found one there last year. It's always good to be familiar with the plants and flowers, and I have learned over many years what bugs to look for where, and when. Still, just because I see a bug somewhere once, there's no guarantee I'll ever see it there again.

But I keep looking anyway.

This afternoon, I got lucky. A beautiful female, poised to grab her next meal: any insect that might land on her flower.

I stopped by to look at her again about an hour later. This time she got lucky, too.

But when you think about it, there was more than just luck in the spider's favor. She is perfectly adapted to the lifestyle of blending in and waiting patiently. A quick grab, a deadly bite, and it's all over for the unlucky skipper.

Brown widow spiderlings

I noticed these on my Euphorbia lactea this afternoon.

Swept away 2

It's sorta like throwing the baby out with the bath water, except you would never really want to do that with a baby. But I needed to sweep away all the webs from around my mailbox, and in the process, I swept out the spider along with it. I did take a few moments to admire it before I relocated it to another part of the yard.

You can see last year's Swept Away post here.

Porch moth 2-fer

See 'em there? Under the porch light? Geometer moths. They're practically twins.

thing 1

thing 2

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Nothing thrilling under my rocks today

Today is International Rock Flipping Day, and I was out early in search of some good "look-unders" but I wasn't too thrilled with what I found.

A colony of ants, suddenly exposed, scurries to protect their babies (the little white things). I can't tell you how many rocks have ants under them, or how uninterested I am in them. These are Argentine ants, and they are everywhere, all year long. There was a nice little video someone took of what appears to be a similar frenzy of exposed ants. You have, maybe, 5 seconds before you have ants running up your legs. Time to put the rock back and move on.

A few isopods.

This sowbug killer spider has good "ick" value, but still nothing I haven't seen a bunch of times over.

I don't know if I'll get a chance to do any more look-unders today. It's too hot out right now.

In the meantime, check out other peoples' findings on Flickr, and also on the Wanderin' Weeta Blog

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Finally, some (mantid) girls

In this picture, a female mantid (S. californica) is in the upper left corner of the doorway, and a male is approaching from the right. I watched them for a long time, until it got dark. When I went back to check on them later, the male was gone, and the female was across the porch. Mission aborted. (And no, I don't think she ate him. It was only about an hour since I had last checked on them. It would take longer than that for her to eat him, she would have had a fat belly afterwards, and there would have been parts leftover.)

This is the female from the door. I call her "camo girl" because of her coloring.

Nice striping on her forelegs.

Interesting mottling on her abdomen.

This is a huge S. limbata I also found on my porch.

Her wings

Mantids can be incredibly photogenic. I don't know any other bugs that can look you in the eye (or the camera lens) like they can. But this girl looks deceptively charming. Trust me, in between these shots, she was wild, running around and jumping all over the place. At one point, when I tried to pick her up, she even flung herself down on her back and played dead for a few moments.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The motherlode of cute bugs

Thanks to "Vanessa Cardui" of Am I Bugging You Yet? I now know that these cute bugs are scentless plant bugs, (Niesthrea louisianica). And I found tons of them on a mallow plant at the arboretum. They start out bright red when they hatch, then they develop white spots, and as they continue to grow they become white with dark spots. The adults have wings.

You can click the pictures to see them bigger. For tiny bugs like these, bigger is better.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Waiting for the girls

I've seen lots of male mantids at the arboretum, and they're all just hanging around waiting for the females. I haven't seen any adult females yet, though.

Grasshoppers on parade

In addition to spiders, there are also lots of gray bird grasshopper nymphs around, and in all different colors. I can't resist them.

This one was in my front yard. And, on my computer at least, it really was this vivid green.

These next few were at the arboretum. I like the way this guy's antennae are sort of echoed in the little stems sticking out by his head.

Just another big green one blending in so nicely with her particular plant.

I'm thinking about making a new gray bird color parade slideshow, but I haven't decided if I want to make one with all new pictures, or just add more pictures onto the original.

Cute little bugger

Not sure which of these two views I like better.
Not sure what kind of Hemiptera this guy is either, but he's cute with his speckly, fat body and his stubby yellow wing pads.

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