Monday, September 19, 2011

Meet the regulars - spring has sprung

This will be my first season in Castlemaine. Amazing creatures appearing from every nook and cranny! I have chosen a few to be my regulars for the blog. Hope they all make it through the season. (Click on images for a larger version.)

Let's start with the show-offs - the orb weavers. The golden orb weavers (Nephila sp.) are still in their egg sacs, none yet hatched. The garden orb weavers are busy weaving their magic. The three I have found are all Eriophora pustulosa, not the same species as I had previously. These all have three little bumps on the end of their abdomens. The largest is Pustula, just a corruption of her species name. She lives on the back verandah.

Archer lives under an arch covered with ivy pelargoniums.

The third, of which I hope at least one makes it to breeding, is the smallest, but makes the most perfect webs outside the studio where I write, which I call my garret. So she is Garreta. Tonight, she was taking it a bit easy, not showing off like her fellow Eriophoras.  Still gorgeous!

I have lots of my very favourite spiders, the black house spiders (Badumna insignis) and their smaller cousins, the grey house spiders, Badumna longinqua. I'll only introduce one although I go out and talk to lots of them every night. You'll be pleased to know that none of them reply. Stonewalled has got me fascinated. Black house spiders build funnelled webs, usually with two entrances or more, into a retreat. Stonewalled has done all that, her retreat going far back into the stone wall along the front of the house. But she has pieces of casuarina needles from the garden above her neatly woven into her web. I have seen trapdoor spiders do that. I have seen wolf spiders do that. But I've never seen a black house do it. Has anyone else? Here is my Badumna artist.

So many regulars I want to introduce, but I will have to be selective. So last is my little common house sider who lives on the porch. Achaearanea sp. I call her Portico.

Portico was using a tiny piece of twig caught in her web to stabilise herself as she wrapped a large prey. I couldn't identify it.

There are lots more, but those are some of the spiders I check on every night. Their stories will be told here. Others may join, and of course, being low in the food chain, these spiders may become food. 

I have some wonderful photographs from another Castlemaine arachnophile. They'll appear here soon. Watch this space!