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So, what were they?

14 Sep
Goliath Stick insect

Goliath Stick insect

Australia’s largest Phasmid (leaf/stick insect), this baby can top out at 25cm (9+ inches!).  The females are larger than the males and although they have wings, they’re not very useful, unlike the males. Perhaps the coolest fact about these creatures is that the female doesn’t even need a male to have babies; a type of reproduction called Parthenogenesis (from the Greek parthenos, meaning ‘virgin’ and genesis, meaning ‘birth’.)  All eggs, however, will hatch into female clones of the mother, whereas if she were to mate with a male, the offspring can be male or female.

Mole cricket

Mole cricket

So, although when I first saw one of these I thought it was in fact my worst nightmare…it is simply a mole cricket.  In the same family as your average cricket, this guy looks more like an alien cousin.  And if you can actually get past its creepiness and hold one (which I have) you’ll be simply delighted to find out that those strong little paws (more like hands, if you ask me) are quite strong and they will persist in trying to dig free. Or they may just give you a quick little (harmless) bite. Fun.

African Cave spider

African Cave spider

Okay, I admit, even being a spider-lover, this guy could easily be categorized under ‘Worst Nightmare’.  Even more so when you watch Fear Factor and people actually had to eat them…alive.  Not enough money in the world…

eating spider

Anyway, this African Cave dweller can range from 7.6-60 cm (that’s 3-23.6 inches) in size and its pedipalps (one of the second pair of appendages near the mouth of a spider or other arachnid that are modified for various reproductive,predatory, or sensory functions. – thefreedictionary.com) act like those of a mantis and help them to grab and hold onto prey.  But here’s the clincher-they don’t have any venomous fangs and are harmless to humans.  Which is why people do this…

Cavespider06

Next, is this little anomaly…

So, here’s what I’ve discovered on this little guy; it may or may not be a leafhopper, it may or may not be a shield bug.  Nymph? Adult? The site I found this on had no further information and when I went to research it, I couldn’t find much.  So, this will be one for either my insect friends to help on (wink, wink) or I’ll have to put in some late nights at the library.

To be continued…

Now, I know most of you will think that this is a totally Photoshopped image of a spider but how do you know spiders don’t have great teeth close up?  The answer to this one is, clearly, the look my friends give me when I say I like spiders.

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What is it?

13 Sep

So, this time I decided to do a multiple What is it? post.  Trust me when I say that there are many strange and wondrous creatures out there and here are just a few.

 

goliath

Photo credit: amazingamazon.com.au

1.

a. My worst nightmare

b. Goliath Stick insect

c. Amazonian tree grasshopper

Photo credit: commons.wikimedia.org

Photo credit: commons.wikimedia.org

2. 

a. Mole cricket

b. My worst nightmare

c. Burrowing Southern cockroach

3. 

a. Belthar’s Dark scorpion

b. African Cave spider

c. My worst nightmare

Photo credit: orionmystery.blogspot.com

Photo credit: orionmystery.blogspot.com

4. 

a. A pumpkin seed

b. A leafhopper

c. Early instar (development stage) of a grasshopper

5. 

a. My mother when I told her I was moving out.

b. Totally photoshopped image of jumping spider

c. The look my friend gives me when I say I love spiders

So, what was it?

8 Aug

So, did you have a guess?

Now, before I give you the answer, let me explain a few things.  First, the creature (and I’m being careful not to give it away by choosing that word) in the picture is a mimic.  There are two reasons for mimicry (myrmecomorphy); to either fool predators or to fool prey.

Gum Leaf Katydid resemble ants in their early development.

 

There are four types of mimicry (more on those in a later post) but this particular guy is employing the Batesian Mimicry.  Batesian mimicry is when a there is a resemblance between one insect or spider that is unprotected and palatable (our guy) to another species that is unpalatable and protected (what he is mimicking).

So, what is this guy mimicking?

The Golden black ant.  And not only do they resemble them in appearance, but these guys go so far as to hang out with the ants, undetected!  And here’s how I figured out what it was — they also take their front two legs and wave them around like they’re antennae. and I noticed this guy suddenly walk on his ‘antennae’! What? Wait, let me count those legs…

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6… 7… 8!

What has eight legs?

Now you’re with me.

(Drum roll, please)

Introducing…the Golden Ant-mimicking Jumping Spider!

golden ant mimic

Yes! A spider.  And when I took him outside to get a better shot, he dropped off the bowl and hung from some web…which I was not able to capture.  Bummer.

To see my personal favourite example of mimicry, check out the post I did on the Bird-dropping Spider.

What is it?

7 Aug

This little guy was found on one of my children’s stuffed toys. As most lovers of all things creepy crawly can attest to, we pretty much know the creatures that share our humble abodes…but this guy was new to me.

I was able to guess it straight away. Can you?

IMG_3102.JPG

So, what was it?

22 Nov

Yesterday when I did the research on this thing and found out what it was, I had a very nerdy moment of excitement.  Sure, most people get excited over things very different from this, but hey, a chacun son gout.

So, let me just get straight to it.  This funny little mystery is called…

The Bird-dropping Spider!!

november macro 050 november macro 051 november macro 052

Once again it appears I’m a huge lover of spiders, and I guess I am, but they just seem to find me.  You’ll have to forgive the quality of the pictures.  This little guy was dedicated to his role as poo.  It took a lot of coaxing to get him to move enough just to get a few snaps before he went back into character.  And honestly, had I not prodded so much, he’d have never moved at all.  Great camouflage to fool predators and surprise unsuspecting prey.

The male of this species tends to be on the smaller side at around 3mm.  I’m guessing this one was either a male or young spider because that’s pretty much exactly how big it was.   If you zoom in on one of the pictures you can see some web, and apparently only the young of this species actually make web.  The females of the species are quite large and grow to about 20mm in length!  Oddly enough, it’s the females that are usually found with the males and young being seldom seen.  So this was quite a treat indeed!

My two guesses were a tiny frog and then when I noticed the “legs” had separate fingers, that it was some sort of spider.  I guessed a spiny orb type because of the cream/white “skull” part.  So I was partly right. 🙂

Back view

Back view

The pic above sort of looks like the front view of a tiny frog.

Front view

Front view

The picture above looks like the back of a tiny frog with its legs/knees along its sides.

Fun Facts:

These spiders are also known as Death’s Head Spider because from the top they resemble a skull.

Commonly found in orchards, they are also called Orchard spiders.

Like the Australian Huntsman, the female of this species attack their prey directly and do not build a web.

Adult bird-dropping spiders only capture one species of moth, the Lawn Armyworm.

The male of this species gives off a scent that mimics the scent of the female Armyworm moth.

What is it?

21 Nov

Today’s post is a good one.  In my daily insect search through the yard’s bushes and trees, I spotted this.

november macro 034

The hubby voted that it was bird poop and had quite a laugh at me taking a thousand photos of it.  You more experienced ‘wannabes’ out there might be able to get this one.  I had two guesses and one was way off.

I’ll give you a shot of one side and the other side.  And the only thing I can tell you was that it did not move…at all.  I blew on it, waved the leaf around, nothing.  (That poop guess was starting to loom over me.) This was all before and during the photo shoot.  I’ll add the rest of the story in the follow-up post.

Here’s another angle.

 

november macro 035

 

What is it?

6 Nov

20131106-214420.jpg
Cute little guy, right? No? Yeah, maybe more a face only a mother could love. So, the question is, what is the mother?