A shoot tip or an insect!!
During a walk in the thick forest of western ghats, one of the shoot tip of a plant on the path caught my attention which made me take a second look. The shoot tip i thought was actually this flower chafer, a male Narycius opalus, a in the tribe Cetoniini in the familiy Scarabaeidae. The genus Narycius only consists of this single species which is endemic in the Western Ghats.
It guess it was mimicking the shoot tip. Shot in very low light conditions!
It was a cool sunny day.
The forest floor had little bit of moisture from the rains a week back. As we walked along the path filled with leaf litter, one of my accomplice stopped and said, a snake! over there! It was an endemic species of tree snake. It was right in front of us, a few feet from us. It was stunned like a statue, it was not moving. Its entire body was flat. It had transformed into a dry stick. I went close without making sudden movements and took some images.
And from no where a frog jumped across the snake, the snake's head turned towards it. Then we thought there might be some drama. The frog leaped again and went further, the snake started chasing it, but before we could spot the frog and snake, both had disappeared into the leaf litter.
The snake would have had his meal for sure!! The perfect camouflage and its silent movement made us loose the sight!
Long and legless but not a snake!!
The place was not wet as it is supposed to be in this time of the year. We started exploring the forest floor. The leaves were almost dry with very little moisture. I started to look under the rocks and logs, only to find lots of termites and ants. One of the log was free of ants and termites, i knew there would be something but never thought i would see a caecilian. It was very calm and not moving. I had never seen a caecilian so calm. After documenting, left him under the same log under which he was found.
Most of the caecilians that i have come across is during night and in streams. Earlier in july i came across 2 caecilian larvae in Agumbe in morning, in a small rain fed stream. They were very fast and were moving upstream. And a few adults in Amboli at night in streams. This was my first caecilian in this part of coorg!! Better version here
Looks like this spider had a scrumptious meal. She was covered with scales from a Moth. :-)
Found this beautiful Moth on a Jackfruit tree.
He was approx 1.5 inch from tip to tip if I remember it correctly.
I was surprised to find a tiny moth on the bottom right corner while processing this pic. I never saw it while photographing.. I must say their camouflage really works ;-)
This male mosquito had assumed an odd posture.
He was rather reluctant to fly away. Initially i thought he was feeding on the sap or moisture. On closer inspection I noticed his palps were not touching the bark.
He was just resting.... :-)
I found more than 10 pairs of this beautiful spider in a 10 m X 10 m area. Almost all of them were in the process of mating.
The pair seen here was cautious and hesitant to approach each other.
Found this little spider on a concrete slab. She was restless and very curious, always jumping onto my lens.
She was on her way when suddenly she was startled by a quick moving thing in front of her. It was brilliantly camouflaged Praying Mantis! A tiny fella. The mantis stood its ground and the spider moved away. :-)
I found this Jerdon's jumping ant on tree. It had a Picture - winged fly in its mandibles. When I approached it for a picture it leaped onto the ground from a height of approx 5 feet and started getting away from me with quick successive leaps. It then hid under a dry leaf. I carefully lifted the leaf and quickly photographed it before it started moving again. :-)
I knew the exact location of its nest which was about 50 feet away. Followed it half way when a Black -Naped Monarch Flycatcher male distracted me and I lost track of the ant.
I have seen these ants single-handedly taking on relatively large insects like grasshoppers and dragging them back to their nests .
Their have a very painful sting. You better avoid getting stung from this mighty powerful ant. :-)
Found this mating pair of orb weavers hanging on a web yesterday.
They were mating for prolonged duration. After sometime the male would quickly move away from the female and rest there for a good few mins before returning to her. This would also happen when the wind picks up.
This continued for an hour or so until they both moved away from each other. They stayed in their positions for a couple of hours when the male finally decided to move away from the web.
In the back of my mind I was expecting the female to devour the male after mating. I had composed the image to photograph that event. But that didn't happen :-D
I found more than 10 mating pairs in a 10 m X 10 m area. Almost all of them were in the process of mating.
A mating picture of Linyphiidae Spiders is here along with some information on their mating process: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vipinbaliga/7788349154/in/set-72157629263187666
My favorite Guava tree is invaded by these beautiful little parrots every year.They come in large numbers and devour the fruits even before they start to ripen.
I made it a point to observe them regularly and salvage any fruit they hadn't yet consumed. One day when I went to shoo them off,I noticed a partially consumed Guava. I knew the Parrot would return and thought it would be nice to photograph the culprit for the record.
Spiny Leaf Beetle : Mating
I had photographed a Spiny Leaf Beetle a year ago. It is then I began to think how they might go about the process of reproducing, given the heavily fortified armor around the female. Today I found the answer! :-)
Found this pair of mating Spiny Leaf Beetles today. I was shocked and mesmerized at the same time. Look at them, they are copulating just like every other Beetle even with those large spines surrounding them! A very delicate maneuver indeed. :-)
They were on a leaf which was rocking violently to the wind. But they never budged for more than an hour, until they were done.
Size: 7mm approx ( female)
Found this very shy male Brettus sp. with a kill yesterday. The prey looks like a Theridiidae sp.
He was very shy and just didn't want to face the camera. Managed to get a few shots, but barely :-)
Seeing such a tiny stick insect for the first time. Found 3 little nymphs on a tree bark. They were all slowly climbing up the tree.
Size: 1 inch approx (body)
This female Ichneumon Wasp was wandering over a Hibiscus flower. Every now and then she would freeze and wave her antennae, perhaps trying to detect the presence of its host insect to lay her eggs onto.
These Ichneumon wasps are important parasitoids of other insects. Common hosts are larvae and pupae of Coleoptera, Hymenoptera, and Lepidoptera.[wiki]
As seen in this picture the Hibiscus flowers are ravaged by Beetles. I guess this female wasp actually targets that very Beetle.
Wish to witness the action sometime soon. :-)
I saw a small strawberry sized Crematogaster Ant nest on a Curry Leaf sapling. I was observing it when from the corner of my eye I spotted two Crematogaster Ants on a nearby Indian Borage plant.
I thought of getting the close-ups of those Crematogaster Ants on that nice green leaf and was approaching it when one of the ants quickly fled and hid under the leaf, while the other ant went about its business without a care in the world.
When I flipped the leaf I learnt about the true identity of this creature. It was a female Crematogaster Ant mimic jumping Spider!! A perfect copy of the Ant in every way.
I thought of not going for the close-ups and just observed the interaction.
The Spider would behave just like the ant in terms of movement and behavior. The Spider would try to approach the ant hesitantly but when the Ant came too close It would quickly get away from it.
This continued for a while when the spider decided to move on and jumped onto a nearby twig and just kept going deeper into the bushes.
Meanwhile I managed to get both of them in a single frame :-)
Looking at their size, I guess this Spider doesn't feed on Crematogaster Ants. Maybe this is a Batesian mimicry?
I request the experts to shed some light on this.
The close-ups will be posted soon.
Few more shots here: http://thewesternghats.indiabiodiversity.org/observation/show/325360
Blending In - Moth for ID
The coloration of this moth looks exactly like a tree bark covered with moss!!
After photographing it I went away in search of other insects. Later when I decided to check on this moth again, it took me a while to spot him, even though he was in the exact same place
Requesting the ID.
Size: Slightly larger than 1 inch
UFO - Featherlegged Orb-weaver
This is the dorsal view of a female Featherlegged Orb-weaver spider. I found her under the stairs at my home.
She is nothing but a piece of dry leaf from a distance. In fact the colors and patterns on her was not visible to the eye since she was in a very dark corner. I was utterly shocked to see the patterns and textures on her. :-)
Her abdomen had bulged up considerably which I thought was normal for the species until I found her by the egg case this morning. :-D
This spider belongs to a family of non-venomous spiders. They lack of venom glands and they kill their prey by crushing with over 140 metres of thread!![wiki]
Size: 1 cm approx
This tiny mother spider had a few spiderlings and her suspended egg case on a Ocimum tenuiflorum plant.
From a distance she is nothing but a piece of dry leaf, dark brown with no visible colors.
She even oscillates like a leaf caught on a web when the wind blows. :-D
Up close all her features and colors come alive. :-)
The background distractions seen here are her spiderlings and the egg case which is on the right.
2nd image: Lateral shot
3rd image: spiderlings close-up
4th image: Egg case close-up
Size: Less than 1cm tip to tip.
This spider belongs to a family of non-venomous spiders. They lack of venom glands and they kill their prey by crushing with over 140 metres of thread!![wiki]
This female Fighting spider was on a Turmeric plant. I used to observe her regularly.
But whenever I tried to photograph her she would esacpe into her hide, which was constructed by sticking 2 large leaves together with silk.
One day I found her about 2 feet away from her hide and utilized the opportunity to photograph her. :-)
I was observing this tiny Ant mimic jumping spider for a few minutes. At first I thought she was an Ant, but on closer inspection she revealed her true identity. An Ant mimic jumping spider.
She was trying to prey on fruit flies which were abundant on a piece of guava at my home. A few of them escaped, but the spider manged to capture and kill this plump looking fruit fly.
The life and death struggle for this fly lasted a good minute or so, it was struggling and beating its wings for an unusually long time in the jaws of the spider while it was parading all over a utensil :-) .From my experience a spider venom should have paralyzed the victim much quicker. Maybe the large size of the prey in relation to the spider delayed the paralysis? I am not sure.
After the prey eventually succumbed the Spider feasted on it for a few minutes before discarding the empty exoskeleton and moving on.
Here is a lateral shot of the same:
Previously I had posted a picture of fungus Gnat Larvae. I was wishing to see the adult forms of those larva since then. Today I was lucky. Not only did I see the adult Fungus gnats I also witnessed their partial life cycle!
Here it is a different species though.
The fungus gnats were pupating, emerging from pupa and mating on the underside of an avocado branch. Each male Gnat was jealously guarding its share of pupa as seen in picture 3 and 4.
The male gnat would stand beside a pupa, occasionally inspecting it with its feet and antennae perhaps encouraging pupation. As soon as a fly starts emerging from pupa,the male becomes excited and it would try to mate with the still emerging female as seen in picture 1.
The mating lasted not more than 4 seconds approx. As soon as the males finished mating with a female they moved on to guard another pupa.Meanwhile mated females would stay still and dry off their wings and wait for the exoskeleton to harden.
Some females just after emerging would skitter off with their wings flapping and avoid the guard male only to be mated by other males.
There were 3 separate batches of pupa. Batch 1 had around 50 pupa, batch 2 less than 30. Batches 1 and 2 had already began emerging from pupa and mating while the 3rd batch was only just starting with pupation as seen in picture 5.No males were seen around this batch while there were multiple males and just emerged females around batch 1 and 2.
The females would eventually fly off but the males stayed put.
Size: Females : 2.5mm approx
Male: smaller than females.
Found this beautiful Lynx Spider on a leaf. :-)
Pseudoscorpions are generally beneficial to humans since they prey on clothes moth larvae, carpet beetle larvae, booklice, ants, mites, and small flies. They are small and inoffensive, and are rarely seen due to their size. [wiki]
I found this tiny creature hiding inside a kitchen sponge with only his long pedipalps sticking out.
As soon as I placed the sponge on a cloth for better view the Pseudoscorpion came out of his hiding, scuttled all over the sponge and cloth and then went back into his hide.
Size: 8mm approx
Found this tiny Crab Spider on a patch of Bryum sp. Any idea about its ID?
Size: 4mm approx
The largest Assassin bug I have ever come across.
The scale should give you precise idea about its size.
Here is a link showing the feeding habits of a related species: http://thesmallermajority.com/2013/06/18/mozambique-diary-how-to-kill-an-assassin/
Cannibalism - Portia fimbriata feeding on a male
It is a well known fact that in some species of spiders the female consumes its male counterpart before, during, or after copulation. Some species even display non-reproductive cannibalism where the female will prey on its own kind when food is scarce.
This female Portia fimbriata had occupied a corner of my room, just under the roof for a few days. I used to observe her regularly. Her menu consisted of a few insects but a lot more spiders. Typically I would find her feeding on "Smeringopus pallidus" or Loxosceles sp.
But one evening she had a Salticidae in her grasp. On closer observation I realized it was an "adult male Portia fimbriata"!!! The dead male was facing toward the wall, I had to wait for quiet a long time for the female to eventually turn him towards me. She had almost finished feeding by then and the inner contents of the male seemed empty as seen in the picture.
As the feeding progressed the exoskeleton turned into a mush until only one of the limbs and a small chunk of the mush was left over.
She then assumed her usual "cuddled up" posture in the web and nothing much happened after that.
The male might have either failed or succeeded in mating with her prior to be killed. :-)
In the background you can see a dead half eaten fly and the limbs of Smeringopus pallidus spider which was her previous meal. :-)
I found this Spider wasp skittering all over a depression in the ground. Immediately I knew something was going on here. So, i decided to wait and see the drama that unfolds. The Wasp sensing my presence just stopped for while making sure of not hinting towards its hidden agenda.
I was completely still all the while, after a few mins she gave me a clue as to what was actually going on. She was digging a burrow in the ground. After digging a burrow slightly longer than herself she took off from the spot.
It is then I setup my camera on a tripod and waited for the wasp to return.
The wait lasted a few mins. Then she appeared, inspected the burrow, inspected my camera asserting its threat level. On feeling confident she grabbed the wolf spider which she had already placed on a nearby Mimosa pudica plant.
She placed the paralyzed spider just beside the burrow as seen in this picture. She measured the dimensions of the spider with her antennae. Went into the burrow, made the necessary corrections and came out.
She then dragged the spider into the burrow as seen in the 2nd picture. Started closing the burrow from inside. After the burrow was almost completely closed, she started kicking and dispersing the loose soil piled up near the burrow entrance. Maybe she was destroying any clues to her burrow's whereabouts.
After the burrow area looked similar to the surroundings, she made 2 quick sorties. She brought a small Custard apple bud in the 1st sortie and a red flower petal in the second.
The 3rd picture shows her dispersing the loose soil with her hind limbs.
She arranged them near the burrow in a carefully planned manner as seen in the 4th picture.
Inspected her burrow one last time and took off. :-)
These are Fungus Gnat larvae, they live in moist organic matter, accumulations of thatch or fallen leaves.
Masses, sometimes in relatively thick chains up to several inches long, can be found on sidewalks, driveways, or in lawns. If disturbed, the larvae will disperse in different directions. They are harmless.
The rarely seen adults are 2–5 mm long and are important pollinators that can help spread mushroom spores as well as plant pollen.
Info Source: pest.ca.uky.edu/EXT/timelyarc.html