Treading a fine line in the time of tiny spiders

by Patrick Kavanagh

A nocturnal venture into the bush at our place at Strangways at the moment means encountering a myriad of tiny spiders. Some, like this Crab Spider (about 10mm long including legs) pretend to be a bit of plant matter hanging in the web as soon as my light hits them.

Crab Spider

Crab Spider

This slightly larger green spider was too intent on wrapping up its prey to be bothered by the paparazzi.

Crab Spider perhaps?

Many of the spiders in the Golden Wattles at the moment, are however much smaller – a millimetre or even less in length.

Tiny spider and Golden Wattle flower bud

A tiny spider with Golden Wattle flower bud

What did surprise me recently though, was the number of tiny midges that I at first assumed were trapped in the tiny webs of these arachnids. But as soon as I got too close, they would fly off. It seemed that they were using the webs at least for perching. But is there some other purpose? I’d appreciate any information about why they might choose to linger on the trap of a predator. I think they are midges rather than mosquitoes as their back legs are down. And I think the feathery antennae on this one mean it’s a male.

Midge on spiders web

Midge?

By day, there have been quite a few small black wasps on both Golden Wattle and Cassinia arcuata bushes and there have been a few Eucalyptus Weevils about.

Wasp

Wasp on Golden Wattle

Eucalyptus Weevil

Eucalyptus Weevil

Another mystery for us was a strange looking multi-legged animal in the tub in our laundry. We fished it out with a Grey Box leaf and having no idea what would be an appropriate habitat, took some pics of it on the leaf before letting it go in the garden. Typing “bug with 15 pairs of legs” into Google quickly identified it as a House Centipede. It seems it would have been more accurate to photograph it in the house – their preferred habitat in which they hunt other invertebrates. There are native species, but I think this is the introduced one, Scutigera coleoptrata.  We don’t know if it was living at our place or came back with our washing from a recent camping trip in NSW. A striking photographic subject even if it shouldn’t be here.

House centipede_17-05-06_14 crop 2

House Centipede

House centipede_17-05-06_5 crop

House Centipede

5 responses to “Treading a fine line in the time of tiny spiders

  1. Great insight into a world we don’t often notice

  2. I’d love to see some macro images of stuff living in the soil

  3. I too noticed lines of midges resting along spider’s webs – in the Wombat Forest last week. I didn’t know if they were perching or caught.
    https://natureshare.org.au/observations/5912db3bed2a893d8c002eed?species=Chironomidae+spp.

  4. Chris Johnston

    Fantastic images Patrick. Re house centipedes, I often have them here – and in the house – hunting at night. Most often I see them about where one would expect a huntsman spider – high up on the walls. The other place is in the kitchen sink – so a match with your find! I am disappointed that they might not be native! I notice that Wiki says they bite – they seem quite shy in my experience. And the Australian Museum refers to a native species – https://australianmuseum.net.au/house-centipede – and that the European one is in Sydney. Love it if you have a link to help ID the native vs Mediterranean one please?

    • Patrick Kavanagh

      Chris, I just googled the genus name Allothereua that I got from the museum web and looked at the images that came up. The markings on the one I found were more like those in the Scutigera posts than the Allothereua

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