Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini – Spider Galore #5

June 12, 2013 at 3:25 pm | Posted in itchy fingers | Leave a comment
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Tisu Boy was walking in front when suddenly he stopped and signalled me to do the same. Itchyfingers were at a nature reserve and there were other visitors around so he stood still and waited for them to walk away. But before he could tell me what was going on, I had already found out…

There, among the tree, I saw the reason that stopped Tisu Boy. A spider. And wow…! A big spider! What a spider! And the best thing was…the spider had a prey….and..a BIG one!

Can you see where Tisu Girl was pointing? Looked big huh…

Normally we would try to keep a low profile when photographing wildlife. This is to keep the disturbance level to the animal as minimal as possible – you never know who are the potential poachers among these people that we do not know. Of course not all people will poach wildlife if they see them, but they may unknowingly cause harm or stress to the animals when they get too close. This is especially important if we see nesting birds as the parents will abandon the nest if they feel threatened. Hence, the lesser people to see it, the lesser chance it would be disturbed.

Initially we do not know what kind of spider was that. We were just impressed with its size and even more impressed with the sheer size of its poor prey….But I vaguely remembered seeing and reading about this spider somewhere…

Tisu Boy had only his 500mm lens for shooting birds. But this spider was
just too interesting to dismiss, especially with its prey. So he just had to move
as far as possible to try to capture them….Looked seriously comical! He did
that when we saw the Red Tent Spider too…hahah…

Then…my memory came back. I happened to have worked on one of RMBR‘s book, Private Lives: An Exposé of Singapore’s Mangrove and remembered seeing a photo of this spider…and I also remembered this being listed as rare and endangered species on the Singapore Red Data Book of Threatened Plants and Animals! This made Itchyfingers really excited!

This big spider that Itchyfingers stumbled upon is an Eight-spotted Crab
Spider (platythomisus octomaculatus)!!!! Just look at the size of its prey!

It was a big spider, with a body length roughly 2.5cm. I read later that it is
one of the world’s largest crab spider (family Thomisidae). This must be the
female cos the male would have been much smaller and even more difficult to
find…No one has yet photographed a male, so I supposed it was not yet
being found too….I love the bright yellow of this spider!

Thomisidae do not build webs to trap prey, though all of them produce silk
for drop line – as an 
emergency line in case of falling from inverted or vertical
surface, as shown 
on these photos

Some Thomisidae are wandering hunters and the most widely known are 
ambush predators – they will sit on or beside flowers or fruit, where they grab
visiting insects. The poor praying mantis was at least 10 cm long in comparison
to the spider! Did he look as if he’s praying for his life? :p He must have been
caught by surprise! Does that look like a blood-shot eye? :p

Now you must be wondering like Itchyfingers, why is the spider named “eight-spotted” when there are only seven spots on the abdomen?

Does this answer your question? :p

Funny how the eighth spot on the spider looks like the shape of the praying
mantis’ head... :p

Crab spiders inject venom into the prey to immobilise it. All these time,
the Eight-spotted Crab Spider used her legs to maneuver her prey while
looking for fresh juicy spots….We noticed initially the mantis was still moving.
Maybe it was still alive while being sucked on, or was it just reflex action? If only
we were to arrive at the spot earlier, we would have seen it with its live
prey! How exciting!

One thing for sure…the praying mantis was literally sucked dry…! Look how
flat he was! The forelimbs were flattened out and looked more translucent!
And the spider’s abdomen was also visibly bloated as compared to our
earlier photos!

Checking for any other spots that she might have missed out….

Nom nom nom….So yummy!

No more to suck, but too yummy to thrash away, so she continued to suck on
the skinny legs…

All these while when Itchyfingers were shooting and observing the action, there were quite a number of people passing by. We were discreet and either pointed the camera away, or looked at other directions so as not to attract unnecessary attention…But none of them spotted the pair despite the big spider standing out like an eye-sore with its bright yellow color against the foliage!

Back home, I did a check on my book as well as on the internet. Was pleasantly surprised to find none of the photos taken had the spiders with any prey! All of them had shrivelled-up abdomens. Some were juveniles with paler and more translucent legs, also with wrinkled tummies, like this one shot by one of our local macro photographers. Seems like all of them were starving, unlike ours who was feasting till the tummy ballooned up! So not only did Itchyfingers have a rare find, we also caught it in action with a huge prey! Super happy! We were there for more than an hour, way passed our lunch time. Was so glad that I remembered the name and its rare status, cos otherwise with no proper macro lens, Tisu Boy wouldn’t have endured the hunger, thirst and heat to photograph it for so long! :p It was getting a bit too late for lunch so we decided to leave the spider to finish off her own lunch. Now I kinda regret not staying longer to see what happened and where did she go for a snooze…Now, whenever we passed by the area, we would automatically stop and take a look to see if our friend has returns, but with no luck so far. Eight-spotted Crab Spiders tend to stay higher up the tree canopy and with habitat disturbance and destruction, it is a very sought after find for researchers and photographers. So if you are so lucky to find one, please, do not bring them home as pet! Leave them where they were and just bring back photo memories!

PS: This post was long overdue as the sighting was some time back…Dunu what took me so long to dig out the photos after all the excitement, but well, the expected stuffs do crop up…But it’s just too rare not to share! Better late than never! :p

A short clip on the feasting…

Also see related posts:
> Whipping Around – Spider Galore #4
Seeing Red in a Tent – Spidey Galore #3
Eating Its Own Kind? – Spidey Galore #2
Jaws – Spidey Galore #1


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