Actually, today I had a real purpose for visiting my spiders compared with my usual reason of just doing it. Last week I met Prof Li Daiqin at the National University of Singapore. He is a serious spider guy - and is quite interested in behavior of jumping spiders and spider silk. Some of the jumping spiders respond to UV light and in the dark, you can observe mating behavior via UV illumination. Daiqin amplified by curiosity and helped focus it on spider behavior. He shared with me his understanding of Argyrodes, the little kleptoparasite. So today I thought I would look to see if I could identify their klepto behavior: theft or web eating. I was not disappointed.
If you touch the web - off she goes - either up or down - leaving an empty web. I have read that with a 100 Hz tuning fork, you can test the spider's response to high frequency vibration. So a tuning fork in on my to-buy list.
Here she is hiding in the grass - from above
and looking horizontally at her through the undergrowth.
I gently plucked her web and this time she climbed up a strand of silk to her hiding place behind a leaf (poorly focused)
At first I was uncertain as to what she was doing here - eating? or making an egg sac? or wrapping a prey? or what.
Oops - gone again
and here she returns. You can click to watch her manipulate the sac.
picking up her maybe silk sac and continuing to do whatever female Argiope versicolor does with a sac or whatever
and doing her sac thing (actually contains a small spider)
May 6, 2006: What has changed over the past 24 hours
The Argiope rebuilt her web overnight and added an upper right part of the cross (or X).
Here is her web with her
Here is her web without her. Noice the silk sac with a brownish object inside.
She disappeard and the sac was left oriented so that its possible to peak inside
And this is not an egg sac - but contains a small spider
Meanwhile - back to Saturday, May 5, 2006: The best surprise what that there were several Argyrodes in her web
Leaving her, I found a Nephila complete with kleptoparasites everywhere
From the side - you can see little orange regions - these are the small Argyrodes
Near the center is some debris and a little Argyrodes above
Several in fact
This is quite interesting. I think she is eating a segment of the Nephila web but look below her - where there is an insect suspended from the web. She will work her way around the hole - eating these little tasty treats and then when she is near the insect - will steal it.
A closer view
She works her way around this hole, which I assume she created
And here, I caught her stealing an insect
Note the golden color of the Nephila silk
Here is the best image of the little insect she is stealing
Backing up a bit - here is the mom Nephila. Look at the slack drag line - first time I have seen this. Typically it is tight - not loose
Another surprise - I think this is a male Argyrodes. Look at the bulges in his palpi - used to inject sperm into his female friend
Then I think I found an infant Nephila Though the web is horizontal, I think this is the real thing
And of course, Argyrodes everywhere
And this little guy was walking around a nearby leaf
As well as a small assassin bug
Then back to the food court - a tall lime juice and someone was having a birthday party
C. Frank Starmer