April 08, 2008

Insects

I have learned so much about insects that I didn't know since living here.

(If you don't like sp!ders or c@terpill@rs or b33s don't read this post. It's not gross it's just insect-filled)

Did you know that those little brown bags (shaped like joints) that you see on trees and buildings sometimes belong to a moth, called a bag moth? Well, they do. But the amazing thing is (I only saw this yesterday) is that the moth caterpillar lives inside the bag - it's not like a monarch butterfly chrysalis, it's more like the caterpillar uses the bag like a snail or a crab would. I watched one yesterday, and I swear I am not exaggerating, I actually measured it - the caterpillar moved more than 4 metres in 90 minutes! The caterpillar appears to be quite large (although I only saw the front bit), between the size of a cabbage white and a large monarch, but it is black with white/grey patches and a tan head.

There are heaps of spiders out here, as you would expect - a lot of nursery spiders, but also hunting spiders and wood spiders. There are three webs across the front of the kitchen windows, which makes them easy to observe. I've been amazed how how successful spiders can be as hunters - as many as 20 catches in one web over just a few hours. I don't think they eat everything they catch immediately, they just run over and wrap it in silk for later. But after they have 'eaten' (drunken?) a catch, they're left with the dessicated remains, and what they seem to do is to take off and eat the silk threads, and then get the remains in a little bundle on the end of a long leg and dangle it as far away from the web as possible before they drop it, which I suppose helps keep the webs clean. A day that is slightly wet and windy day seems to be a good hunting day for the kitchen-window spiders, maybe because the prey insects are seeking shelter under the window eaves.

There are large numbers of bumble bees up here too. I must get at least 4 a day coming inside, and there are often small dead ones on the windowsills. I don't see many honeybees though - I wonder if there is a lack of honey bees, or if this is just not very good country for them up here? Bumble bees lead a very different lifestyle to honey bees so it may be a simple as lack of good food and nesting sites.

Posted by phreq at April 8, 2008 09:44 AM | TrackBack
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