Friday, 25 June 2010

Creepy

Malcolm doesn't like creepy-crawlies. I have to say, I have a fear of spiders, but they still hold a certain fascination to me. But Malcolm has an aversion to anything with more than four legs. So it is with apologies to him (as well as a warning to him not to look at the last picture today), that I write today's entry.
There are a vast number of insects and spiders about at the moment and most seem to be determined to make our home and garden, theirs. Firstly, a very colourful little spider which was found building a rather ragged web in our Juniper tree the other day. It is a Green Cucumber Spider (Araniella curcurbitina). An easy one to identify with its bright green colouration, tiny black dots on its abdomen and a small, red spot on its 'bottom' just above the spinners. This small spider relies on its colour to camouflage itself amongst the foliage.
Next, a larger creature. This is a Blue-Tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans). we found it on a tree trunk at the Straw's Bridge Ponds a few days ago, but they are flitting around all over the area at the moment, even in our garden. Carnivorous and quite voracious, they eat other small insects which they catch on the wing by out-maneuvering them and scooping them up in their legs. Quite deadly to other insects, but very beautiful. With such a fearsome reputation, one would think that the fly sitting next to it would be 'holding its breath' and hoping not to be seen!
Another spider next and one which was photographed on our patio door frame. It is a crab Spider of the family Xysticus (I think). Nasty-looking thing!
Lastly for today is a species of wasp. Malcolm has a particular aversion to wasps after a particularly nasty encounter with a nest of them as a child which resulted in a swift visit to hospital. This particular wasp is not the usual type which plagues us each summer and ruins a picnic. This is a Field Digger Wasp (Mellinus arvensis). This species doesn't normally bother people, being much smaller than a 'normal' wasp, but it is capable of stinging us - although it is not as bad a sting as the more usual Common, or German Wasps. The Field Digger Wasp uses its sting to immobilise small grubs, caterpillars, etc.  It then carries the unfortunate prey item into underground tunnels which it digs, to become food for its developing young. This particular insect seems to want to move in with us as it keeps flying back into the house every time I evict it.  I think it's a beautiful little creature, but just another warning to Malcolm...
Don't look Malcolm!
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