Thailand's natural world contains some incredible creatures which have evolved in very interesting ways to exploit very specific niches to ensure their survival. Without a doubt some of the most exotic of these creatures are from the insect world.
I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with insects, just like most people. They can annoy the hell out of me as well as prompting drastic reactions when some of them take a little too much interest in continually biting or stinging me. However some of their kin wake a sense of boyhood fascination in me.
One such group of creatures are the Bird Dropping Spiders (AKA bird shit spider if you like). How wonderful and eclectic nature is when it can evolve species that mimic the droppings of birds for their own protection. Evolution at its most creative.
I had previously seen the bird dropping mimic Ceylon Crab Spider, Phrynarachne ceylonica, in Khao Ang Rue Nai Wildlife Sanctuary a couple of years ago and was fascinated by its movements and predation. It is believed to give off chemicals that attract its prey whilst mimicking a bird dropping. A fascinating, if somewhat ugly, little critter that tenses its legs like arms outstretched until prey gets into range before slamming its fore legs closed and capturing its victim. I am not sure what the trigger is but it attempted to capture my finger! That was enough for me and I backed away. Goliath cowering in front of David.
I had seen some very interesting photos on Maleang.com of another bird dropping spider, the White Bird Dropping Spider, Cyrtarachne bufo, and was fascinated. It actually had a "cute" appearance somewhat resembling the beautiful orchid crab spider. Unlike the Ceylon Crab spider I had seen previously, this spider appears to mimic fresh birds droppings! I had hoped to see one but having no idea what, where or how the spider lived it would be down to lady luck. Lo and behold lady luck smiled last weekend and I spotted something resembling a bird dropping on a blade of pampas in Khao Kiew - Khao Chompoo Wildlife Conservation Area in Chonburi. The fascinating and dare I say - beautiful in its own way - White Bird Dropping Spider. Another great little critter to marvel at and to make one ponder the creativity of evolution.
White Bird Dropping Spider, Cyrtarachne bufo
White Bird Dropping Spider (inset) and Ceylon crab spider, Phrynarachne ceylonica
NB: Bird dropping Spiders are not from one specific family, nor is the mimicry of bird droppings specific to spiders, certain species of moth and beetles are known to mimic bird droppings also.