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Posts Tagged ‘wildlife’

Mantis

We discovered a friendly face in the backyard the other day.  Unlike the aphids and earwigs (unfriendly) or the box elder bugs (neutral), mantids are a definite positive in any outdoor scene.  Despite their somewhat chilly demeanor (watching them turn their head from side to side is eerie!), their habit of eating harmful insects is very desirable.  In fact, not long before I took this photo, there was a silk worm hanging out on this little meyer lemon plant (notice the silky debris at the bottom of the picture).  Thank you, mantis!

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Jewel Spider

Our ten-foot-tall tomato plant has become host to a skilled predator.  I first noticed her beautiful web earlier this week after my morning run.

Jewel spider web, slightly torn up from use

She herself is quite impressive.  My camera isn’t really up to this kind of photography, but she’s an orb weaver and has the characteristic swollen abdomen.  Hers is almost the diameter of a dime.  But hers also has two pronounced sharp bumps (referred to as “horns”) toward the front, where the abdomen joins to the head.  That’s how I was able to identify her as a jewel spider.

jewel spider with prey

See her abdomen to the left, with the horn sticking out?  Her head is to the right, and she’s devouring some sort of large beetle that had the misfortune to find its way into her web.

She and her webs are so impressive that I’ve gotten into the habit of looking for them every morning (orb weavers spin a whole new web every night).  On Saturday morning, she’d spun her web at about knee level, across the gap between the tomato plants and the garlic and scallion bed.  I walked right into it, and thrashed around for several minutes yelling and hollering, especially after I realized that the poor spider was also thrashing around– right between my knees!  Of course, the web was very sticky, so getting it off my legs was a difficult proposition.  But I did, and she survived, and was able to spin a new web (sorry, old girl).  I’m pretty sure I deprived her of food yesterday, so I was glad to see that she had a fine catch today.

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