August collection

No, not the month of August, but the adjective ‘august,’ meaning reputable, refined, and noteworthy.

Okay, yeah, it’s the month. And I looked it up just for giggles, and the none of those are synonyms for august anyway, which list, ‘dignified,’ ‘distinguished,’ and, ‘imposing.’ So much for my high-school English classes…

Regardless, there’s little theme here, just recent photos. As a follow-up to the previous horrofascinating post, I went out that night with the headlamp, doing the rounds as it were, and spotted something on the sweet potato vines along the front garden.

remains of annual cicada Neotibicen
That’s the remains of an annual cicada, and three meters or so from the driveway, so very likely to be the last vestiges of the mantis meal. Huh! In my day, we ate every bit of the cicada! But prompted by this, I began a close examination of the front garden, even though I’d looked it over when I returned about an hour after shooting those video clips, and this time located my quarry, a meter from the carcass, sitting on the oak-leaf hydrangea.

Chinese mantis Tenodera sinensis matching appearance of video subject
Right size, right coloration, immediate vicinity, even near the remains, so I’m 95% sure this is the same one. Not quite as swollen as I expected, but perhaps there had been some significant bowel movements in the meantime. Be sure to recommend Walkabout to all your friends.

A few days previously, after a heavy rain, I’d found another sizable adult specimen in the backyard, this one all tan in color – I still don’t know how their color change takes place, but given what I’ve observed in the past couple of years, I think it can only change during a molt. This one gave several nice poses, not at all concerned with my presence and actively hunting. But I call this one, “Reagan” – see if you can determine why.

Chinese mantis Tenodera sinensis from underside
I would like to claim that I am monitoring the many mantids in the yard for either mating or egg-laying activity, but that would imply something more that spot-checking, mostly at night, because it’s still ridiculously hot during the day. Granted, if I had someone willing to pay for such photos, I’d be out there constantly (well, depending on how much they were willing to pay,) but given how this is little more than a hobby, I’m retaining more of my body moisture within. Yeah, I know, I’m such a poseur…

possibly white-banded crab spider Misumenoides formosipes on underside of butterfly bush leaf
On the butterfly bush one night, I found a decent sized crab spider ambling around, waiting for another blossom cluster to come into bloom (the drought had slowed down a lot of plants in the yard.) From what I can tell, this is most likely genus Misumenoides, possibly a Misumenoides formosipes, or white-banded crab spider – this is determined partially from the coloration, but mostly from the positions of those eyes. Believe me, pinning this stuff down can be tedious – I have 13 tabs dedicated to spiders open in my browser right at the moment.

Then a day or two later as I stood by the main Japanese maple in the yard, I spotted a curious movement, what almost appeared to be a crab spider flying to one of the leaves. I leaned in for a closer peek, then trotted in to get the camera. Thankfully, it was still in the area when I got back, having moved further on but betraying itself through its telltale movements (and obvious color contrast.)

possibly mud-nesting spider wasp Auploplus carrying paralyzed crab spider
This was a very small wasp, no bigger than a house fly, but carrying a paralyzed crab spider. I’m familiar with wasps that use spiders to lay their eggs within, sealing up the paralyzed spider in mud cases for the young to hatch out and consume, but had never seen one this small. Near as I can tell, this is an Auploplus, but the few frames that I managed didn’t provide enough detail for much else. Effectively pinning down a species accurately can often require minute examination of specific body points, requiring a captive (dead) specimen, so not going to happen from photos obtained in situ. I do what I can to identify what I shoot, but rarely get a full range of body positions, and I usually don’t collect specimens just to identify them.

But this made me wonder if the wasp had snagged my crab spider subject from earlier, so I checked later on in the evening. Nope – still there, this time happily ensconced in a new blossom cluster

possibly white-banded crab spider Misumenoides formosipes within blossoms of butterfly bush Buddleia davidii
But you want to know what’s really bad? I didn’t see the other spider in this frame until reviewing the draft of this post just now. Granted, it’s not 3mm in overall width, but you’d think while doing the cropping and resizing…

Same species? That white band across the face lends some weight to the idea, but that’s far from definitive for crab spiders, and the size disparity would seem to indicate two separate broods, with far too little detail to tell anything else, so no, I’m not committing to anything, but I can keep going and see if I can get this sentence to run on ever longer…

Another image just for the sake of it.

unidentified 'inchworm' larva dangling from silk line
I’ve spent enough time on right now, so I’m not even going to try to identify this, knowing it would be far too time-consuming given how many species have ‘inchworm’ type larva. Perhaps 20mm long, I found it one night dangling from a tree and shot a few frames, liking how the detail came out. That’s the head at the top; inchworms extrude their silk from their mouths, to allow them to make cocoons. I still kind of expect them to be head-down like a spider. You can just make out three eyes in the pale patch on the side of the head, close to the jaws.

And finally, the most recent one.

swollen female green lynx spider Peucetia viridans not long from making egg case
I did a brief trip to the North Carolina Botanical Gardens, uh, yesterday now, and snagged just a few photos – far too many have to be discarded, because I was shooting wide open with the Mamiya macro, no flash, and the depth was so short that I had a hard time nailing focus. Not my best day. This green lynx spider (Peucetia viridans) is a female and not far from producing an egg sac, judging from that swollen abdomen though I know you’re not supposed to do that, or at least vocalize it. In the old place, we had several broods develop, but we don’t have inviting enough flowers around Walkabout Estates now: taller, able to attract the big pollinators, and able to support their egg sacs which can get bigger than 30mm across. So right now, I typically only see them at the Botanical Gardens or Mason Farm Biological Reserve. I could add some enticing flowers, but considering how difficult it’s been to get some of the new plants established, I’ll probably just find the lynx spiders where they are now.

28 for 28 – three more days/posts (at least) to go…