Friday, 21 May 2010

Hunters

More nightmares today, as I took my camera on a tiny safari around the garden in search of more minute wildlife. There was plenty too. Firstly another spider which was hiding amongst the leaves of a Hebe, waiting for an insect to stumble into it's path. A House Crab-Spider (Philodromus dispar), this one is a male.
Measuring about 5mm in body length, this is a very agile hunter, as I found as I pursued it through the dense foliage, machete in hand! It's legs are covered with short, bristly hairs and the abdomen has a glossy appearance. It is quite common throughout England and Wales as far north as Cumbria.
Lastly, another small creature which landed on our patio doors. A 22-Spot Ladybird (Psyllobora 22-punctata). At about 3mm long, it is a little smaller than the more commonly seen 7-Spot. It is called 22-Spot because it has 11 spots on each wing case, but as there are a further 5 spots on it's pronotum (the section between the head and the abdomen), it should probably be called a 27-Spot!
It's bright colouring is an indication to prospective predators that it has a foul taste and can actually exude a nasty, orange liquid from it's leg joints if handled. This controlled bleeding stains the fingers and has a rather pungent and long lasting smell. These ladybirds, unlike most others, is a herbivore and eats mildew from leaves, especially those of the carrot family.
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