Category Archives: Arthropods

Guess who’s coming to dinner?

A male and female Hawaiian Garden Spider and a beetle snared in the web

My house has been surrounded by spiders and their webs for most of the winter. One female Hawaiian Garden Spider has a web which angles across the living room window. I can follow the activities there from the comfort of the couch.

One morning, I raised the window blind and found this scene. The large, yellow-backed spider is the female. The much smaller drab, brown spider above her is the male, and when a male is seen on a female’s web there’s only one reason – he’s looking to mate with her. I’m not sure what the third character in this scene is. It might be a mango beetle, but it was securely trussed to the web.

What happened can be seen in the gallery. The male tried his mating moves, the female remained largely unmoved. Much of the time the male stayed on the relatively safe opposite side of the web to the female, but to mate he must venture to the other side. When he did, sometimes the female swung into action. Mostly, she seemed responsive, but one time the male disappeared in an instant. Then I saw him climbing back up the thread he’d dropped on. Something must have gone awry, but no harm done. Through all this activity, the beetle looked on, waving its little legs and antennae.

The presence of the beetle seemed to affect the delicate negotiations going on between the spiders. Sometimes, the male went over to the beetle and sort of prodded at it, but nothing more. In the early evening, the female lost patience. She straddled the beetle, shot out strands of threads, and rebound the beetle as she spun it with her legs. It turned like a rotisserie chicken in overdrive. I didn’t get photos of this as the light was fading.

Next morning, nothing much had changed. The female was still the central figure, the male still holding his position. The only difference is that the beetle had managed to push its legs and head through the engulfing threads and it was back to waving its little legs and antennae. Later that day, the male appeared to successfully mate with the female and escape alive. I last saw him wandering over to the next web along where he positioned himself carefully on the opposite side of the web spun by another large female.

The next day, there was still a female on the web but I think it was a different, smaller one than the one in these photos. The beetle was still there, still waving its little legs and antennae. That evening, the new female did the rotisserie chicken move on the beetle and retrussed it. Next morning, the beetle had freed its legs and head again and was waving its legs and antennae again.

The following day, only the new female spider could be seen!

Posted in response to this month’s Becky’s Squares challenge theme of ‘Odd.’ See more responses here.

None shall pass

A grasshopper blocks the way

I encountered this grasshopper while walking at Puʻukoholā Heiau National Historic Site at Kawaihae. As I approached, the grasshopper held its ground and I immediately thought of the Black Knight in Monty Python’s Holy Grail movie. Unlike the Black Knight, this grasshopper finally pinged off to the side and let me pass, all it’s limbs still intact!

Posted in response to this month’s Becky’s Squares challenge theme of ‘Odd.’ See more responses here.

A look back at 2021

A Hawaiian monk seal resting
January: Hiwahiwa, a male Hawaiian Monk Seal born in 2020, rests at Upolu. Haven’t seen any monk seals since this encounter. (Link)

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘2021 in Your Rear-View Mirror.’ See more responses here. I’ve gone with a favorite photo from each month of 2021, with a caption and link to the post the photo first appeared in.

Wainanali’i lagoon at Kiholo, Hawaii at Kiholo, Hawaii
February: I love hiking at Kiholo Bay. There’s plenty to see and shady spots to rest awhile. (Link)
Spinner dolphins in the waters off the Big Island, Hawaii
March: Swimming with dolphins! Need I say more. (Link)
An I'iwi calls in a forest off Saddle Road, Hawaii
April: Another favorite hike, on Pu’u O’o Trail off Saddle Road, and an endemic I’iwi singing its heart out. (Link)
Close up of a coastal manta ray approaching
May: This inquisitive Manta Ray kept returning, probably wondering how something so clumsy-looking could survive in the water. (Link)
A Roseate Skimmer Dragonfly perched on a twig
June: I like seeing little creatures, such as this Roseate Skimmer Dragonfly, and I’m thrilled when the photos turn out. (Link)
Three palm trees in Hawaii
July: I like palm trees and word play so this was too tempting to pass up for Becky’s Tree Squares. (Link)
A school of mackerel scads, or Opelus being hunted by a rainbow runner off Hawaii
August: An instant in the water – a school of Mackeral Scads chased by a Rainbow Runner. They went by in a matter of seconds. (Link)
Red-masked parakeets at Kohanaiki Beach Park.
September: These Red-Masked Parakeets are not native, but they’re oh so tropical. (Link)
Early morning lights at the port of Kawaihae, Hawaii
October: When I have time, on my way to work, I stop at Kawaihae. I might see anything from a glorious sunrise, to a tiny crab on the beach, to these port lights. (Link)
The lava cone and lake at Kilauea Volcano in late 2021
November: Kilauea erupted again so I had to go look. The eruption is still going, but a little erratically these days. (Link)
A Green turtle, with a slender remora on its shell, checks out the photographer
December: A recent encounter and maybe my favorite Hawaiian Green Turtle photo. (Link)

Spiders and stick insect

A Hawaiian garden spider and a stick insect snared in its nest
A tiny spider on a stick insect snared by a Hawaiian garden spider

Outside my bathroom window, a colony of crab spiders has created a vast network of webs between the house and utility lines. The image (bottom photo) would have been a good one for Halloween.

In amongst the crab spiders, a female Hawaiian garden spider has staked out a spot. It’s close to the window and I get a good view of what she’s up to. Usually there are one or two little cocoons of white webbing where she has captured and stashed a wee bug for later.

On this morning I glanced outside and saw a large brown shape stuck in the web and lightly wrapped in white. So I went outside and took the top photo of the unfortunate victim. When I looked at it, I realized the garden spider wasn’t the only one in the photo. I noticed a much smaller spider on the stick insect. So I went out again and took the second photo.

I don’t know what kind of spider it is, but I liked its shiny metallic abdomen. I assume that spider was in the process of snagging itself a free meal. The garden spider didn’t seen too bothered, I presume because she figured such a small spider wasn’t going to deplete her larder very much.

Spider webs on utility lines

Alright, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.

The current Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Close ups and Macros.’ See more responses here. Here’s a selection of some little creatures up close and personal.

Bugs

A Bee on a Maiapilo flower

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Summer Bugs.’ (See more responses here.) To the best of my knowledge, Hawaii’s bugs are pretty much the same year-round. Here are some of them.

The top photo shows a bee showing impressive balance on a maiapilo flower.

Next up, clockwise from top left: Getting down to eye level with a juvenile praying mantis. A painted lady butterfly on a kiawe tree. A katydid wondering what it’s done to deserve this much attention. A seven-spotted lady beetle being watched.

The final gallery: Top left: A mango flower beetle explores a spider lily. Top right: A watchful cane spider wondering if it should run, very fast, away. Bottom left: A Hawaiian carpenter ant (Camponotus variegatus), one of too many that have taken up residence in the house. Bottom right: A rusty millipede deciding that it’s all too much!