Nephila on her magnificent wheel-web
Recently my morning routine has involved checking on a Golden Orb spider (Nephila pilipes) which has, after trying several positions around the house, constructed a web under the eaves outside one of our sliding doors. As it is a door which is rarely used she has not been disturbed by us. However, during the night her web is vulnerable to collisions by insectivorous bats hunting for insects attracted by our lights. In the morning she is frequently busy repairing her web and yesterday major repairs were underway as there was very little of the main wheel remaining.
Although her movements were not fast she didn’t stop until the work was complete.
The spider uses her tarsi to draw the silk from her spinnerets – it is fascinating to watch the action. Spiders are able to produce silk in various qualities depending on what part of the web is being constructed or whether it is being used to wrap up some prey. She works deftly with never a moment’s hesitation about where the next section will fit!
Nephila pilipes drawing silk out of her spinnerets
It is fascinating to watch the web creation process. Nephila works with such precision and at such a steady pace that by the time I returned to check on her after breakfast it was completed and she was resting in the centre, waiting for her prey.
Nephila pilipes is found in northern Queensland, Papua New Guinea, Polynesia, Malaysia, Bali and India. They are completely harmless to humans and would only bite in self-defence if seriously threatened.
The arrival of wet season rains is a time of renewal – the wetlands are replenished, the frogs breed and provide food for many other creatures. We find the sound and smell of the rain itself as well as the deafening cacophony of frog calls exciting ……. last night we had a look in the pond adjacent to our verandah.
A water spider, Pisauridae species of the genus Dolomedes, had captured a Graceful Tree-frog (Litoria gracilenta), one of many calling around the pond. According to Arachne.org.au “As Australian Pisaurids are being revised by Robert Raven at Queensland Museum, until this review is complete it will be difficult to correctly identify many Dolomedes species”
One of the laughing frogs (Litoria rothii) wasn’t indulging in such risky behaviour and had camouflaged itself quite well against our house python. (House python is made of concrete covered wire and twines up a verandah pillar)
In the car-port a white-lipped green tree-frog (Litoria infrafrenata) was hanging onto our vehicle while numerous sedge frogs (Litoria bicolour, Litoria fallax) called and jumped around the house; several had to be taken outside again after they found their way inside.
This morning we had a look for the remains of the spider’s meal; it was dragged up onto one of the rocks surrounding the pool – a somewhat gruesome sight softened by the flower petal decoration; exactly as found.
And so the circle of life continues – frog eggs (probably L. gracilenta) on the water below the frog corpse.
There are occasions during the year, especially the wet season, when the green shades of the tropical rainforest are broken only by occasional bursts of colourful new growth. However, in the past few months we have been enjoying many colourful flowers – I was very pleased to find such a healthy Floscopa scandens covering the newly exposed muddy bank of this little pond; I planted it here about two years ago but it has taken a while to become established. The bottom of the pond is covered in Marsilea mutica, an aquatic or terrestrial fern. Allen wrote about Floscopa here so I won’t repeat his words.
Another interesting plant discovery has been Costus potierae Continue reading
Recently, while cooling off in our natural swimming pond, I noticed a spider on the water’s edge. When I attempted to get close for a better look it ran away on the water and then went under the surface where it remained quite stationary on the tiles for several minutes. I returned to the pool several times with the camera before I managed to get this photo but unfortunately from that angle I couldn’t get a good view of the eye arrangement.
POST UPDATE: click to enlarge photo for clear image of eyes.
Our attempts at identification were unconfirmed until we just happened to have a spider enthusiast visit us a couple of days ago. Although unable to identify the species from the photo Greg was confident that the spider belonged to Dolomedes, a genus in the family Pisauridae, which is the nursery-web or water spider family. The female nursery-web spider carries her egg sac Continue reading
This is a more interesting photo of a younger Nephila pilipes clearly showing the diagnostic red palps although as the lighting was quite poor I had to use the flash and so her body colour is washed out . The small spider on her back is one of several males which are present on the web which is attached to a rare climbing Pandanus (Freycinetia marginata).
And this is an Australian Wood Frog (Rana daemeli) well camouflaged on some leaf litter. One of the many frog species on the increase at Wild Wings – always delightful to find that the eyeshine in the spotlight is another frog.
There are quite a few Golden Orb weavers (Nephila pilipes) to be seen about at this time of the year but this beauty decided to take advantage of the shelter available under the eaves of the house. There are many males on the web, mostly hovering around the outside edges – waiting their turn or just not wishing to become part of her menu yet?
There is no shortage of food for her, with the large number of insects breeding prolifically in our typical wet season, and the hapless victims are consumed with great efficiency.