A Naturalist and her Daughters Find a Tiny Orbweaver in Bolivia - Observation of the Week 5/25/21

Our Observation of the Week is this Bertrana spider, seen in Bolivia by @kozue!

“It all began with a butterfly,” says Kozue Kawakami.

We (I, the mom, and two daughters ages 5 and 7) found a butterfly laying eggs on a tomato leaf in our small garden. Our quarantine project involved watching the larvae’s metamorphosis. After 39 days the butterfly surprised the girls and left us all intrigued by the tremendous phenomena of nature.

Kozue’s friend, biologist Suzanne Vargas (@thevargases), introduced Kozue and her daughters (below) to iNat. Since then Kozue’s posted over five thousand observations and continues to explore the area around her house with her daughters. “We found the Bertrana spider on one of my daily morning walks with the girls,” she tells me. “The youngest immediately named it ‘little ball spider’ and the elder waited contentedly for the ID from iNaturalist users.” The iNat community came through and identified it as one of only ten observations of Bertrana on the site.

It’s impressive Kozue and her girls even saw this orbweaver spider, as members of the genus Bertrana are among the smallest known orbweavers on the planet, with females not getting much better than 5 millimeters or so in length! (Levi, 1989) They range through Central and South America and are believed to build small vertical webs in the evening. 

“Six months ago iNaturalist opened the door for me to biological diversity that was always around me though I never noticed,” says Kozue (above).

I had always liked taking pictures of little insects. But they were all just “bugs” to me back then. I knew so little about them that I thought spiders were insects, too. iNaturalist has taught me many things! But the biggest lesson it has taught me and continues to teach me each day is that in Bolivia, nature is megadiverse.

We might not have survived being cooped up in the pandemic if it weren’t for the “bugs” that accompanied us in all of their forms and colors. Little by little I am becoming familiar with the species that make up the over 5,000 observations that I’ve uploaded. Most are insects and spiders. All have been seen in my small forest of 300 m².

- Kozue and her daughters have reared 14 species of butterfly since that first encounter. Here’s a compilation video of some of them (text in Spanish). “They couldn't even touch bugs, back then,” she says.

- Kozue also posts photos to her Instagram account.

Posted by tiwane tiwane, May 25, 2021 22:34


Un placer conocer a tus niñas :)

Posted by raycama about 1 year ago (Flag)

I love the family aspects of the Observation of the Weeks! Awesome spider.

Posted by muir about 1 year ago (Flag)

This is not only great but very sweet!

Posted by robinellison about 1 year ago (Flag)

Sometimes the smallest things can have some of the most remarkable stories! Thanks for sharing.

Posted by christmasleech123 about 1 year ago (Flag)

Great work Kozue!!

Posted by atronox about 1 year ago (Flag)

What an amazing gift you have given your daughters and Nature! The importance of biodiversity and love of Nature!! Remarkable.

Posted by salty_mom about 1 year ago (Flag)

Love this! :)

Posted by djgwild about 1 year ago (Flag)

Felicitaciones! Muy bien el articulo y el trabajo que hacen en Bolivia! Epserando mas maravillas, y con saludos Klaus

Posted by klaus16 about 1 year ago (Flag)

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