You never stop learning.

As regular visitors probably realise, there’s been a non too subtle change of emphasis in this blog recently. What was essentially a bird blog seems to have become an invertebrate blog, but I really can’t apologise for that. My interest in the natural world started with insects over 65 years ago, I then moved on to native plants, then to birds, and now I’m back to insects again. That will probably change again though, as soon as I get some quality birding under my belt, but right now it’s summer, insect and spider time.
For a while I’ve been trying to get a good photo of a Leaf-curling Spider, but until last night hadn’t been successful. A nice specimen has her web strung between the Dusky Bells Correa, and the grafted Pimelea physodes, and while I was checking her out yesterday I was intrigued to see a tiny spider wandering around the web with seeming impunity. Curly certainly took no notice of it, I could see it wasn’t a male of the species as it was a very distinctive triangular shape. My second bracket of shots caught it in acceptable focus and I had something to work with in trying to find out what was going on. I’ve mentioned Bert Brunet’s excellent book before, and once again I found the answer there, in the section on Orb Weavers.
There is a tiny spider called the Quicksilver Spider that lives in a commensal relationship with wheel web spiders, keeping the web tidy by cleaning up small bits of debris, and also harvesting a bonus of tiny insects too small for its landlord/lady to bother with. They have given up building webs of their own and instead take lodgings. A search of the internet brought up a picture of a Quicksilver Spider, and sure enough, there was the triangular shape confirming the identification. The first picture is the Quicksilver Spider, the second shows it close to Curly’s door while she is eating a delicious breakfast, and the third is of another Leaf-curling Spider taken with flash last night while it was waiting for meals on wings to arrive.

quicksilver spider

spiders together

leaf-curling spider

4 Responses to “You never stop learning.”

  1. Boobook48 says:

    Duncan you amaze me. Great photos and terrific comments on behaviour. I don’t care what you write about – it’s always interesting.

  2. Duncan says:

    Thanks Boobook, it’s comments like yours that make it worth while. It’s not hard when we’re surrounded by the wonders of nature. Your blog is full of interest too, I never miss reading it.

  3. Giulia says:

    Great photos and wonderful blog. I’m also fascinated by wee creatures. Can you tell me what camera you’re shooting with. I’m having a devil of a time getting close up shots. (I’m using a Canon A610 PowerShot. No doubt I need something more powerful?)

    There’s a spider that seems to be all over the woods here in my backyard of North Carolina and I can’t find out what it is. It look like it’s carrying a leaf on it’s back (sort of like a snail with a shell). Do you have any idea what it might be? They’re small. I can e-mail you a photo (but it won’t be as good and clear as yours.)

  4. Duncan says:

    Hi Giulia, nice to hear from you, as yet I don’t have a camera with a dedicated macro lens, I use a Nikon 5700 and a Panasonic FZ30. With these cameras the subject has to be in good light and have good contrast for the camera to focus successfully, especially with close up shots. They will invariably focus on something brighter in the background, very frustrating. It sometimes helps to shine a small light on to the subject to brighten it up a bit.
    Living in Australia I don’t have an idea of what your spider could be, sounds intriguing though, have you looked on the web for an ID, there are some good photographic sites available. Send me a picture by all means, I’d be interested to see it.
    dcfraser at netspace dot net dot au