Monday, April 29, 2013

on Finding the Ant Mimicking Spider Part 2

I found another Ant Mimicking Jumping Spider.

It did not resemble the long jawed ant mimic I posted a week ago. It looked like an ordinary ant with funny looking antennae poking through the side of its head. I normally would have just ignored it but What gave it away was that it jumped. I instantly knew this was another ant mimic.

I followed it as it went about its business and found out that the telling sign is not that it jumped; because it did it only twice.  It was the fact that it moved its thorax (rear end) up and down while it was walking which was not a normal thing for small black ants. It moved a bit faster than most ants and didn't seem to follow the straight lines that ants usually take.

I got only a few useable photos because the spider was really small. Here are my photos of this Ant Mimic Jumping Spider.

ant mimic (1 of 3)

ant mimic (3 of 3)

ant mimic (2 of 3)

I got lucky again last weekend and found a few more. I will post them when I have the time.

Friday, April 19, 2013

on Finding the Ant Mimicking Spider

I went through my archive and found the most curious Jumping Spider that I still have yet to blog about. This is the jumper that I have long searched for. In all my years of macro photography, I encountered it only twice and this was the first time I had a good shot of it.

The Salticidae I am talking about is the Ant Mimicking Spider (Myrmarachne). There are a lot of species found in the Philippines but so far, this is the only one found in our garden. I found it on top of the car because it looked weird for an ant. When I took a closer look, I found that it huge jaws and fangs. I took some shots of it before it fled when a bigger Salticidae arrived. If you compared it side by side to the more common jumpers, it will be relatively small and looks incapable of fighting off the larger ones like the Cosmophasis I posted in my last blog.

Here are two of the shots I got for the Ant Mimicking Spider on top of the car. Shot with the same 90mm macro and 50mm reverse stack and an on-cam mounted strobe with an omni-bound diffuser. The greenish tint is from the reflection of the leaves.

cars and spiders (2 of 4)

cars and spiders (3 of 4)

I will search for these spiders more this summer. I don't really know how to track them down since I only saw it twice. The next one I find, I will probably observe it more so I get an idea of how they behave and where they are commonly found. Wish me luck! 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

on Shooting Orb Weavers

I often shoot macro during the daytime in shaded places where I often find Jumping Spiders and winged insects. But there are times that I go out at dusk to find orb weavers. It is very interesting to shoot orb weavers at dusk while they build their webs. These are busy like critters who are masters at creating their masterpiece webs.

Most of the orb weavers I find near our house are found in the tall grass or shrubs. They usually build webs in between two branches or two plants. Finding them is easier that finding those fast moving or well camouflaged jumpers. Bringing a flashlight will help in locating webs. A fresh web is usually a good sign of spiders. If you do not see them in the center, they are lurking on the sides in leaves. Tapping the web lightly will also stir them from their hiding places.

Here are two photos of orb weavers I found during the Holy Week. I had some lucky shots as it was really dark when I found them and the wind did not help either. These were shot using a single strobe mounted on-cam with an omni-bounce diffuser.

orby (2 of 2)

orby (1 of 2)

I would like to shoot more of these spiders. If only the grounds keeper would leave the grass tall in front of our house, I'd be having a field day. But sadly, they trim it from time to time, which destroys the habitat. I hope to find more of these before summer ends.

Monday, April 8, 2013

on Cosmophasis Jumping Spider

I have a new favorite spider family which is the Cosmophasis. I have found quite a number of them in the garden and in front of our house. These are agile Jumping Spiders who are not so skittish. They are the type who prowl and move about often and they move really quickly. I chanced upon it several times and only got to shoot it when it was stalking its prey.

eyebrow spider (2 of 4)

Most male cosmophasis have really brightly colored streaks that are even brighter under UV light. The ones found in the garden have bright blue markings on their legs. According to google, they prey mostly on ants and smaller insects. This one also has distinctive eyebrow like hair on top of its eyes. I usually identify individuals by the eyebrows.

eyebrow spider (1 of 4)

I don't actively look for these Jumping Spiders since they move about so much it is hard to find them. I usually accidentally stumble upon them and they do pause long enough for me to take that one frontal shot then they move on again. This photo below is one of those times that I looked below a leaf and found a Cosmophasis underneath. It really did pose for one shot then left.

eyebrow spider (4 of 4)

And why is it my favorite Jumping Spider? It is because of that fleeting moment when it actually looks at the camera then jumps out of the frame. It is challenging to actually capture a sharp image of it as it pauses. I sometimes think that it has some intelligence when it pauses and looks directly into the lens.

eyebrow spider (3 of 4)

I hope to get more shots of this spider this summer.

PS: There is another cosmophasis specie in the garden... the orange one. I will try to take some photos of that too.