From the monthly archives: "December 2007"

chinese spider
hi, i found this spider at the top of the great wall
in a out of the way section. hope you can tell me
about it. it was 6-7 inches from top to bottom. thank you.

This is Nephila clavata, one of the Golden Silk Spiders, so named because of the color and strength of their silk. In addition to China, this species is also found in Taiwan, Korea and Japan.

Please help identify
Lisa Anne and Daniel,
We recently took a canoe trip on Silver River in the Ocala National Forest in Florida. We found this in our canoe the next morning at the hotel in Ocala. Some of the photos of gonatista pronotum look like it, some other photos of gonatista grisea resemble it. Can you please help us identify it? Many thanks,
Jeannene and Scott Kennedy

Hi Jeannene and Scott,
The pronotum is part of the thorax on an insect. Your letter seems to imply that there is a species named Gonatista pronotum, and to the best of our knowledge, this is not true. We feel this is a male Grizzled Mantis, Gonatista grisea, as evidenced by an image on BugGuide. BugGuide also states that this species, which is also known as the Lichen Mimic Mantid is: “Mottled gray, green and brown and overall body shape is broad and flattened. Pronotum not narrowed ahead of point where frong [sic] legs attached. Female has short wings, abdomen lobed on side. In male, wings cover abdomen at rest.”

What are these?
Taken today (12/29/07) in SE CT in woodsy area on my daughters swingset. A warmer day where all the snow is melting. Picture is taken with 1:1 macro so very small – couldn’t even tell how many legs with the naked eye. There’s thousands and thousands of them on the swingset on the wood, slides, etc. Thought they were ticks at first and was very worried about Lyme’s disease, but they’re not ticks, right? Know what they are and if they’re harmful? Thanks,
Justin Montgomery

Hi Justin,
We have gotten many images of Springtails to our site, and countless letters, but this is the first photo we have received of Globular Springtails in the suborder Symphypleona. They match images on BugGuide of Dicyrtomina ornata. Springtails can be very numerous, and are more of an annoyance than a threat. Springtails are primitive, minute wingless insects. Most species feed on molds, decaying vegetation and fungus. Some species are found on the surface of the snow and are called Snow Fleas.

Question and photo…
In our garage we have lots of these small, grey, oval-shaped things hanging from the ceiling. There appears to be something like a small worm protruding from the top. Sometimes, I see these little guys climbing up walls – then you can see the worm/caterpillar-like bug doing its thing. Any idea what they are? Also, please find attached a photo I took of a wasp dragging a very large Huntsman spider across our back yard here in Sydney, up over the fence, and then away in our neighbour’s yard. Best regards,
Ian Nicholson

Hi Ian,
Your mysterious things sound like Case Bearing Moth Larvae. We get letters concerning them from many parts of the globe. Your Spider Wasp and Huntsman Spider photo is positively gorgeous.

Further Query: (01/03/2008)
Hi Daniel,
In the wasp and huntsman photo I sent you, can you please tell me the type of wasp? I had the photo published in a local paper and someone wrote in to say that this wasp is not a chalcidoidea, but of the symphyta suborder. Can you please clarify? Also, I watched this wasp drag that spider 15 metres across my lawn and then haul it up over the fence and into the neighbour’s garden. I presume this is to take the spider to a prepared burrow in order to lay an egg with it. The writer in the newspaper says our wasps in Australia do no such thing, but there’s the photo. Again, can you expand upon the behaviour of the wasp in the photo? Best regards,

Hi Ian,
Between 17 December 2006 and 22 January 2007, we received four letters from Australia of Spider Wasps with Huntsman Spider prey. They can be found in several places on our website, but they are grouped together on the Wasp 3 page. None of those photos are anywhere near as gorgeous as the one you sent. At that time, we correctly identified the Wasp as Cryptocheilus bicolor, a Spider Wasp in the family Pompilidae. The Australia Museum Online site has a photo and information including: “Spider wasps are often seen digging in soft sandy soil, dragging huntsman spiders along. The wasps you are most likely to see and hear are female wasps preparing nest chambers for their larvae. They dig a burrow using long spines on their front legs, then search rapidly around tree trunks and on the ground for a spider. The wasp stings the spider to paralyse it, and drags it back to the burrow. She then lays an egg on the spider’s body, and seals it in a chamber or cell at the end of the burrow. The larva hatches and feeds on the body of the spider before pupating in a thin silky cocoon in the cell.” If the Australia Museum site isn’t enough evidence for you to dispell the misinformation supplied by the person who wrote to the newspaper, you can also turn to the Brisbane Insect website.

Hi Bugman
I discovered this spider on the steps at work in Kill Devil Hills N.C. two days before Christmas at around midnight. I thought she was absolutely gorgeous so I took a couple pictures and returned her to the wild. I believe from your site that it is a female Trapdoor spider. I just love the blue abdomen. Can you confirm my supposition and any further information would be appreciated!

We agree that this is a Trapdoor Spider. It is in the genus Ummidia. We are not convinced it is a female. Females rarely leave their burrow and it is the males that wander in search of a mate. The legs on your specimen seem short (could be camera angle) like those of a female, but the pedipalps are rather large, indicating a male spider. Perhaps someone with more knowlege will write in to clarify.

weird spider in NZ
Hello from New Zealand,
You may not be able to help, but if you can that would be wonderful. My husband and I discovered this spider in our garden today and captured it to take a photo. I just couldn’t get a very good photo. The white spots are actually points – like tiny volcanos, and are black on the back, outlined in red. Eyes, perhaps? The back half of the body is bright yellow. It has 8 legs, but appears to have 2 extra tiny legs when it walks that are on a very tiny body at the base as in Spider 2. The legs seem to mainly go to the front of the body as in Spider 1. Have you any clue about what it is? Thanks a lot for your thoughts.
Nancy and Hugh Mills

Hi Nancy and Hugh,
Back in December of 2005, we got our first image of this species, and with the assistance of a reader in January of 2007 when we received another image, it was properly identified as a Two Spined Spider, Poecilopachys australasiae. We also have a link with additional information that indicates the species is native to Australia but was introduced to New Zealand in the 1970s. This spider is often found on citrus trees.

Broken Links Fixed
Broken links on your site
December 28, 2010 4:53 pm
You have a couple of links to Te Papa’s website on your website, thanks heaps for that! I have recently noticed in our logs that some of these are broken, so I thought I’d report them to you to enable you to fix them.
These broken links came from a data migration when we upgraded our website. We are really sorry about it.
These are the 3 pages with broken links:
The new address of the two-spine spider on our website is the following:
Thanks a lot for linking to us again!
Kind regards,
Florence Liger, webmaster at Te Papa
Signature: Florence Liger