Sunday, 7 December 2008

Dropping in

I've made a few mistakes when it comes to this tiny garden. This Hakea was a particularly silly one because it seems to be made entirely of barbed wire. It will sort out the level of commitment of burglars though. If they can make it through the Hakea, they probably deserve to keep whatever they can find in the kitchen.

Anyway, the bush is in flower at the moment. Despite its profuse blossoms, the birds don't seem to be all that interested — they prefer the paperbark in the street — but the insects think it's great. So I went out with my camera this afternoon to take photos of its visitors. Unfortunately, the needles not only keep away would-be burglars but they make it impossible for me to get close enough for decent pics. I held up the camera and hoped for the best.

This bird-dropping spider (Celaenia) obviously regards the Hakea as a good place to raise her spiderlings . Each of these egg cases contains about 200 eggs, so this garden will soon be crawling with infant spiders. Not good news for arachnophobes and moths. But exciting for me.

Given their common name for their resemblance to bird poo, these spiders rely on camouflage to keep them safe from predators. They often sit in exposed places, such as on the cluster of egg cases, during the day. Birds overlook them.

Although they belong to the orb weaver family Araneidae, they don't build webs to snare prey. Instead, they use chemical attractants to lure moths. At night, they release scents that resemble the pheromones of female moths. Male moths follow the perfume trail and get more than they bargained for when they reach its source.

Over the next few nights, I'll go out with the camera and torch to see what's happening. I probably won't get a picture of a feeding spider but may get a visit from the local constabulary.


Mosura said...

I didn't know about them attracting moths like that. Fascinating!.

Snail said...

There's so much to wonder at --- even in the back garden.

Duncan said...

Pictures of an old friend Snail, I knew them well when I was a kid in Melbourne long ago. Never see them here in Gippsland.

Snail said...

They're marvellous animals, aren't they? I'm determined to get a night photo.

neomyrtus said...

e birds probably aren't interested in your Hakea because them spinous, one with small, white flowers are typically fly and beetle pollinated.

Snail said...

That makes sense, Neo.

Right after I read your comment, I went out into the garden to hang out the washing. (Because I live a wild and crazy life, as we know.) A wattlebird landed with a big thump on the fence next to the Hakea. After making some disapproving noises at me, it hopped into the tree.

But, of course, it wasn't after the nectar but the bird-dropping spider. I shooed it away. There's plenty of other stuff for wattlebirds to eat without picking on my pet arachnids.