Fascinating Cryptic Spiders Part 1

Firstly this tiny but aptly named Decoy Spider (Cyclosa Insulana) is easily overlooked when walking in the forest because it is superbly camouflaged and blends in with the insect debris of its previous meals. It is thought that this collecting habit serves to confuse potential predators but could also serve to confuse small insects that fly too close to its web. Often the webs have very fine silk woven into a ribbon like pattern which stands out white against the forest leaves.

This photo shows the spider resting in legs hunched up around its carapace, eyes just visible as it waits patiently for its next meal. Like many Cyclosa the body curves up. A black and white adjusted version is shown to highlight the actual spider in the photo and show some of its detail.

Decoy Spider (Cyclosa Insulana)

Decoy Spider (Cyclosa Insulana) in Pang Sida National Park

The exact name of this second tiny spider is still not known by the author but it might be a species of Invisible Spider (possibly Drapetisca Socialis) because of its habit of outstretched hind legs. The spider in this photograph has a triangular, brown body and was discovered at night beneath a large vine that spanned a forest brook. A vast army of termites used the vine as a bridge across the water, a constant stream of millions of termites poured like commuters in rush hour traffic on a motorway from the forest floor on one side to the canopy above on the other.

For the tiny spider, similar in size and colour to the termites, it must have been like a hunter watching herds of buffalo on migration past its front door. In this photograph the spider is difficult to see but is located at the bottom of a hanging cache of paralyzed termites. There are far too many termites for the spider to eat so it is presumed that this is a female spider and she will lay her eggs on or in the termites who will then be food for her offspring.

Invisible Spider (Linyphiidae sp. or possibly Drapetisca Socialis sp.)

Invisible Spider (possibly Drapetisca Socialis) in Pang Sida National Park

And our third is a master of camouflage, this Forest Huntsman (Pandercetes Plumipes) spider can be found on tree trunks from Sri Lanka to New Guinea if you have the time and patience to look for them. With flattened bodies and superb colouration they blend in with the natural colour of lichen covered bark. They do not spin a web but do have the ability to produce silk. As hunting spiders their tactic is to sit and wait for potential prey to amble close by before they strike with lightning speed.

The location of the spider shown in these shots was discovered shining a powerful torch beam into the forest at night. The tiny light reflected back from its eyes is like that of light glinting off a dew drop. Unfortunately, it was too high up the trunk to get better, full body shots.

Forest Huntsman (Pandercetes Plumipes)

Forest Huntsman (Pandercetes Plumipes) in Pang Sida National Park

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"Each species is a masterpiece, a creation assembled with extreme care and genius." > Edward O. Wilson

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