The trend begins

Last year was largely devoted to arthropods, even though I’m not actually trying to limit myself – they were just what I had the greatest opportunities to tackle. And it seems this year may be largely the same.

The same holly trees that appeared here have been playing host to several specimens of crab spider, all the same species as near as I can tell. And what species is something that I cannot, as yet, provide – most of the Thomisidae family are brown, and my model isn’t really sporting many defining characteristics, is it? Some faint dorso-lateral stripes, or at least I think that’s the term I want – I’m not an entomologist, I just play one in a small jazz band on weekends. The fly seen here actually intruded into the scene after I’d gotten the macro bellows set up, and I fired off the shot before I even leaned back to the viewfinder to see if it was in the frame; once the camera is on the tripod and locked into focus, you can fire off frames with the flash in different positions without having to be behind the camera. So this is a lucky capture, especially since the fly departed before I got the chance to confirm the framing.

The next one is not the same spider, but half-a-meter away on the same plant.
Before I’d even fetched the tripod and bellows, I’d spotted both specimens, and I’m not sure this one had made its capture then – it was a nice discovery as I was setting up. Even though the tip of a closer holly leaf is partially in the way, I’m pleased that the flash angle was sufficient to capture the dragline, the little bit of safety web that most spiders maintain routinely. It allows them to throw themselves off of their perch if danger threatens, and still return without having to climb the entire holly tree again. I’ve taken advantage of this trait many times, because it allows me to collect a specimen by catching the dragline as it bungees away. In fact, if the position on the tree is any criteria, I did just that with my model at top yesterday, who bailed as I got too close with a different lens (hoping for a nice eye-to-eye-to-eye-to-eye shot.) As it descended on the web strand, I caught the line and reeled it in, lifting it back up to my level and, more by chance than anything, depositing it back into the exact same position it had launched from. This might have been utterly confusing to the spider, producing some esoteric theories about the curvature of space-time, had it possessed the brainpower; I suspect this is a little beyond their abilities, however.

Both specimens about 4mm in body length. Macro bellows at unrecorded extension with Vivitar 135mm 2.8 at f16, Metz 40 MZ-3i flash off-camera.