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Preying Spiders

Monsoons breathe new life into the landscape.  The dry landscape suddenly becomes a vibrant green. The countryside that was hitherto seemingly dull, dreary, dry and bereft of any life suddenly seems to be buzzing with activity. Plants are in various processes of their reproductive stage. All animals try to maximise this time of plenty.

This was the setting when a few of us headed out one morning to the countryside a short distance from Bangalore, perhaps a 45 minute drive from the southern parts of the city. The light was dismal, the sky overcast.  We had parked the vehicles and were exploring some of the lush roadside vegetation.

My eyes were drawn to a little butterfly that was sitting on a leaf. As I went closer to photograph, I realised that the Dark Cerulean Jamides bochus was in the jaws of a Crab Spider (Family Thomisidae).  I was planning to photograph the butterfly, but instead caught the butterfly becoming the meal of a spider – a bonus natural history photo-op! Many Crab spiders are known to stay in flowers, their colour often matching the flower. They catch and make a meal of the insects that visit the flowers.

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There was a constant breeze through the morning and photographing was not easy. I started scanning the vegetation within my eyeshot as I waited for the breeze to stop so that I could continue photographing. I sighted a little brown leaf-like thing that was curiously stuck to the underside of the lantana leaf. Even as my fingers neared the leaf, a Green Lynx Spider (Peucetia viridana; Family Oxyopidae) suddenly moved to the upperside of the same leaf. The brown ‘leaf’ that I had espied turned out to be a praying mantis that was becoming the meal of the spider! The present position of the spider offered excellent opportunity for photographing. We managed some good shots of this too. The Lynx spiders are active hunters. They are diurnal and live on vegetation.

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We were satisfied with the pictures in spite of all the odds (breeze, constant traffic movement which threatened to run us over, etc.) and were ready to continue further when one of us spotted a little black creature in a low shrub – it turned out to be a Jumping Spider (Family Salticidae). The jumping spider was also having its morning meal; feeding on something we could not identify. This spider was particularly shy and gave us only 3 record shots before disappearing into the shrubbery.

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There was so much life within a few square meters and before we realised we had spent a good hour photographing these 3 “preying” spiders! We were also left wondering about the kind of impact that spiders must be having on insect populations and the role of spiders in keeping a check on insect numbers which we very often ignore or even overlook.

  • http://shivanidiwani64.blogspot.com/ shivani

    Specialist…so do they have a name for that…for all i can think of you is as a naturalist who is also a friend.
    Right now feel like calling you Spider Man…brilliant shots…the green lynx spider looks as pretty as the lantana leaf and the jumping spider looks cute like its wearing the most fashionable coolers.
    WOW !!
    and thanks :)

  • http://shivanidiwani64.blogspot.com/ shivani

    The first photograph was taking a long time to load so couldn’t see it earlier. Saw it now.
    And i wonder if the creators of Zoo Zoos ( Vodaphone) had known or seen the crab spiders.
    So Crab Spider, Green Lynx Spider and Jumping Spider…not a bad idea to browse through on a bad bad rainy day.
    Thanks for giving me something interesting to do :)

  • http://backpakker.blogspot.com lakshmi

    you just summed it up..so much of life around us ! thanks for showing that aspect of ” life ” with us , as we are so lost in our daily routines .

  • http://deponti.livejournal.com Deepa Mohan

    Now I too have started looking at Life Under Leaves, but very often, I can’t seem to spot one-tenth of what you seem to notice! So it’s nice to have such photographs and text to show me what I could look for next time I am in the field. Thank you. I only wish that when I do see something, I too can document it so well and share it.

  • Sheila Castelino

    Fabulous Shots!! Karthik. Lovedthe one of the “Crab spider and the butterfly – Dark Cerulean Jamides bochus”. Your account on the three spiders with their ‘kill’ made very interesting and informative reading.

  • http://www.visualquotient.net Shreeram

    There’s so much action in the undergrowth, all within a few metres. Thanks Karthik for showing us these wonders. The photographs are really good, especially the eye-contact of the Jumping Spider.

  • Rajalakshmi

    The predator- prey drama goes on in nature….each one gets a chance to overpower another, it seems like… First it was wasp and spider, now it is spider and butterfly ! Amazing cycle of life. Equally amazing is your ability to land where the action is !!

  • http://www.wildwanderer.com Karthik

    Thanks folks for those nice words.
    Best wishes,
    Karthik

  • http://birdsonthebrainetc.wordpress,com Uma

    I like Shivani’s name for you – Spiderman!! Richly deserved! And its such a wonder how you spot these things!! Thank you once again for the informative post and fab pics!

  • Anuroop

    Awesome shots – loved the jumping spider pic! Thanks for sharing the info as well :-)

  • http://www.livingintothewild.com/ Ashish Tirkey

    Never knew that Spiders do prey mantis..Thanks for sharing it and always a pleasure to learn from you. Pictures are as usual beautiful.

  • http://anveshane.blogspot.com Deepak

    Thanks Karthik, Wonderful pics and info….Attention to details is amazing.

  • http://naturerambles.blogspot.com Nanda

    Wow. As always, you write about things that makes us (or just me? :) ) go, how come I never saw that! Thanks for the informative article. Few more things to look out for when we venture out I guess.
    nanda

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/radha-clicks/ Radha

    We only see and spot these things, but only you can explain why what we see is happening :)

  • Mittal

    Another fascinating post and great pictures.

    Thanks
    Mittal