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!
This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Rainy Day.’ See more responses here.
I had just finished my walk around Upolu Airport when the weather closed in. Usually, clouds and rain are blown in by the northeast trade winds, but on this day a system was moving in from the west. I’d been watching its progress as I walked, but still got caught out as it moved faster than I expected. Still, I did make it back to the car, waiting for me in the wet parking lot, before the next deluge arrived (top photo).
The crab spiders didn’t seem to mind the weather, and the raindrops made a picture of their webs (middle photo). It also made them easier to see so that I could avoid my usual trick of blundering into them and having webs wrapped around my head.
On the drive home, after my walk, I carved an avenue of spray as I motored along the puddled road (bottom photo).
This pair of Hawaiian garden spiders spent a long time facing off from different sides of the female spider’s web. The male is the smaller, drab spider, while the larger female has splashes of yellow, orange bands on her legs, and a bejeweled back, which can be seen here. The female spiders are much bigger than the males, though this female is not actually a particularly large one. Full-sized females dwarf their male counterparts.
I don’t know how this encounter turned out, but the previous day I did see another male on this web and it did not turn out well for him. I didn’t get good photos, but he appeared to be thoroughly enveloped in her ‘loving’ embrace.
When male garden spiders approach a female, they pluck the females web in a certain way to alert her to their presence. Typically, successful male garden spiders mate with a female and then die immediately afterwards. Sometimes the female will eat their male suitors. I’ve read than canny males will try to mate while the female is undergoing her final molt because during this process she will be immobile!
Crab spiders tend to proliferate in the fall and dwindle in the spring. That means winter is prime time for encountering lots of them, usually in the form of blundering into their webs. This is easy to do for two reasons.
One is that the webs can be large. While the circular centers aren’t that big, the anchoring strands often span 10 feet or more, and are hard to spot. The second reason is that crab spiders build connected webs, meaning there are often a dozen or more covering a large area.
Crab spiders will bite, usually after they’ve got caught in someone’s clothing. This is why, when I run into a web or webs, my first response is to locate the spider. If I find it on a remnant of its web, I don’t worry too much. If I don’t see it, then I usually do my flailing crab spider dance, which serves no useful purpose other than to likely irritate the spider if it is on my person.
On the plus side, crab spider webs, like most webs, are quite beautiful when they catch the sunlight.
I posted a few weeks ago here about a large female Hawaiian garden spider which had spun a web in a place I often visit. A week or so later, that spider had disappeared.
Now, in that spot, three new webs have appeared, each occupied by female Hawaiian garden spiders. However, these new occupants are much smaller, about the same size as the average male of the species. I think it’s likely they’re the offspring of the first spider I saw there.
The smallness of the new spiders can be seen in the size of the prey this one had caught – a little ladybird.
This rather large female Hawaiian garden spider (Argiope appensa) had spun a web in a place where I was able to gain decent access to it, so I decided to take photos from front and back and both sides.
The top pose is the one I see most often, with the spider perched on the underside of her web. The back view is the most striking, with its jewel-like top side of the abdomen. The two side views show how gently the spider sits on her nest.
A couple of days later, I saw this same spider on her web with the jeweled back catching the sun. I must have got a bit too close because in an instant the spider was on the other side of the web, underside toward me. I’m still not certain how she made such an instantaneous transition, whether it was through a hole in the web or zipping around the edge, but it was faster than my eye could record.
I noticed this spider moving across a dirt road in a most peculiar way. A closer look showed the reason why. This group of ants was taking it home, but not in a warm and fuzzy kind of way.
The ants were moving at a pretty good speed, which was impressive considering there were several of them involved and all pointing in different directions. After a few moments, they scuttled over the side of a rock and out of sight.
The victim looks like some kind of jumping spider.