Thursday, May 10, 2012

Scary or cute? Both actually...

It's been a while since I featured a spider on the blog and so working on the premise that a spider every time might be too much, but one every now and then is fine, I'm going to risk the wrath of the arachnophobes  and begin with one today...
Misumena vatia (m)
The other thing to consider is that this is the first time that I've seen the male of this species and in relation to the females, they are very small:only around 3-4mm and so there's nothing to be scared of?

What a fabulously marked head though-look at the pattern above and below the eyes, it looks almost like a skull?

Misumena vatia (f)
Here's a female of the same species-by comparison, huge at 9-11mm. These are the ones that have evolved the trick of being able to change their colour to match the flower they sit on to wait for prey and although I believe they can only change from white to yellow, as long as they stick to the two flower colours (and they always do in my experience) then it's a clever trick.

...........O.K. if you're sure? This next spider could easily be mistaken for a nursery web spider but is actually another crab spider. It does have a similar habitat to the nursery web but it's a different species altogether.

Tibellus oblongus
Called Oblongus for obvious reasons, I think the size of the abdomen here indicates that it's a male. These are found amongst tall grasses and often stretched out like this at rest.

Shall we move away from spiders now? No!'d like to see at least one more? Well, if you insist, you really are insatiable!

Diaea dorsata

Yet another crab spider but what a beauty! These brilliant little things can be found on the leaves and branches of deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs;they're only around 5mm or so and so you may need to look hard to find one-go on, you know you want to!

I have got even more crab spider photographs to share?.......No? Maybe next time then?

Let's move on to caterpillars then. I'm not 100% on this one but fairly sure this is the larva of a moth called The Sprawler (Asteroscopus shinx) and if so, it's another first for me.
I found it feeding on oak and the size certainly matches at around 50mm and the markings seem right too. The other thing that makes me think the i.d. is correct is that this caterpillar has a habit of throwing it's head back when threatened, and that's exactly what this one did. It's a real brute of a larva this one and was a treat to find and photograph.

I also found a couple of looper caterpillars recently and although I haven't had a chance to put an identity to them yet, thought I'd add them all the same and I'll update the information as soon as I can....
These are natural light shots and taken in the rain at that and so the quality isn't quite what it should be (he said making excuses for himself.)

Having a quick look through my reference book, I think perhaps the first one is a Mottled Umber larva and the second possibly a Scalloped Oak but really will need to check this out as very often the first choice for i.d. turns out to be incorrect with further examination.

To complete this update I want to bring you something different. I don't get to take many shots of animals and birds, not because I have no interest but I just don't have a lens that is good enough right now. I wish I did because it would open up another world for me and I do see some interesting things that I'd love to have a go at photographing.

Anyhow, what I can bring you is something that'll tug at your heart strings for certain. If it doesn't then you need therapy!

Friends who live in Canada were recently presented with a very young grey squirrel that had fallen from a pine tree. Apparently friends of theirs had found the little one and waited for a parent to recover the pup but none came and so they took it home with them.

Having kept it overnight, I suppose they realised they didn't know how to care for it properly and that perhaps my friend Cathy, who has a number of other animals, might be better placed to do so.

Cathy told me that she would have liked to try and raise the little one herself but with a baby in the house and also already caring for a hedgehog, she decided to pass it on to somebody who could offer professional care and would be able to cope with the regime of 2 hourly feeds that it required.There is also the added risk with a baby in the house that these young animals could well be harbouring mites, ticks and fleas.

In these photos, her daughter Megan is trying to warm the youngsters by holding it in her hands-temperature is very important at this age and they can easily become dehydrated too. I'm not sure exactly of the age of this one but my guess would be around 4-5 weeks based on the hair covering-not sure if it's eyes were open, but probably not, in which case it could be less than 4 weeks?

All pictures courtesy of Cathy Rowcliffe

I'm not sure how things are in Canada but there's a whole debate here about these greys being vermin and I know there are vets that won't even treat them. In fact there are vets here who are reluctant to treat any wildlife! But that's another debate.

I'm having none of the 'vermin' nonsense, there's room for us all and we are all equal in my eyes.

That's about all for now, until the next time.....

Stop press: Latest news today from Cathy in Canada:

I got brave tonight and phoned and checked on the baby squirrel, the first night was rough as he was so dehydrated but they used pedialyte for the first few feedings then tried really hard to make it want to take the kitten milk replacement ( KMR), finally it worked and the little guy is doing well. We will have to pop over to check on it soon... they mentioned we could give it a bottle as they are having so much fun doing it... though not getting much sleep as it eats every two hours.


  1. More spiders please, cute is the only word to describe them. Just caught up on your blog, been hectic for a few weeks at work, better than being out of work I guess. Hope your keeping well.

  2. Thanks Jason-I do have more spiders to come!
    Yes, I'm O.K. thanks.


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