Saturday, February 4, 2012

Around the yard

Over the last month or so we have had a number of young Golden Orb-weavers (Nephila pilipes piscatorum) appear around the yard. Some are now reaching maturity, and the tiny males are finding and staking out the huge females. Another fascinating aspect of the lives of Nephila is the almost guaranteed appearance of kleptoparasitic spiders (Argyrodes sp.) within their webs.  These tiny spiders sneak in to share larger prey with their giant hostess, but also collect any tiny insects which are snared in the web.

A sub-adult Golden Orb-weaver (Nephila pilipes piscatorum) with her tiny suitor waiting patiently above her.

A tiny kleptoparasitic spider (Argyrodes sp.) photographed on the outer line of the Nephila web at night.

We have also had a number of adult Spine-collared Phasmids (Parapodacanthus hasenpuschorum) visit the lights over recent weeks. We cultured this species in captivity for the first time last year, collecting almost 900 eggs from three females. The eggs took just over 3 months to hatch and the insects matured in around the same period. This species is a reasonably selective feeder; only known to feed upon Aspens (Acronychia spp.) and Corkwood (Melicope elleryana). The Hard Aspen (Acronychia laevis) is the local species we utilised as a food plant.

A female Parapodacanthus hasenpuschorum that visited our lights recently.

The same specimen close-up showing the prominent collar of spines.

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