The Dead and the Devious

Posted: February 14, 2010 in butterflies, macro photography
Tags: ,

The Dead Caterpillar

If my little caterpillar (who gave me a good number of rashes on my face and earned me a number of stares in the office) had survived…

It would have transformed its little pudgey unremarkable black and white soft body into a winged beauty with electric blue wings and an abdomen which is red at the sides… and shows strongly against its dark wings when in flight.

The moth was flying high above in the trees when spotted but does not fly fast.  Its flight is reminescent of the slow circling flight of the Malayan eggfly, only it didn't rest on the leaf in the sunlight but circled under the leaves and into the shade before it landed on the base of a tree hidden in the shadows. 

The Pompelon marginata belong to the family of Zygaenid moths, of which some are known for their ability to release defense droplets of hydrogen cyanide to ward off predators.  They also manufacture their own poison instead of obtaining them from host plants.  Their bright colours warn would be predators of their toxicity.

Ref: Science Direct

 

ASpider In Ant's Clothing

I was stalking a skittish Chequered Lancer when I noticed a large ant pouncing on a smaller ant and dragging it away happily into a leaf which had been folded by strands of webbing (as can be seen in the photo below).  The "ant" scurried into the crook of the leaf and devoted its macabre attention to the smaller ant.

Upon closer inspection (opening the folded leaf), the "ant" stopped "fussing" over the smaller ant and froze in anticipated horror while I realised that the "ant" actually had 8 legs instead of 6 with one pair poised up as if it were a pair of antennae.

Before I could unfold the leaf any further to get better photos, the spider, identity now-revealed, dropped its pair of "antennae" and made a very un-ant-like amazingly fast LEAP to who-knows-where far far away from me and my prying camera, leaving its dead quarry on the leaf.

Disappointed, I poked around in the leaves and came across another smaller ant-like spider (below) who must have seen what was going on earlier.  It decided to drop any freeze-and-hope tactics and disappeared before I could even get a photo of its large long jaws (a typical feature of ant-like spiders). 

For more information on how these devious spiders get away with murderous foolery, click here to read Joseph's page on Ant-Mimicking Jumping Spiders.

 

More Lookalikes

Banana skippers (Erionota thrax thrax) and Coconut skippers (Hidari irava) look almost alike.  So how does one tell the difference?  For starters, the Banana skipper is much larger than the Coconut skipper and in the field, it's very obviously so.  And it also seemed to fly slower than the Coconut skipper for I was surprised when I was able to follow its flight when I was never able to do so with the Coconut skipper (but I wonder whether it's just this one particular individual today).

The Coconut Skipper also has a few small obscure post discal spots on the underside of its wings which can be seen when at rest and a faint purple wash which are absent in the Banana Skipper.  Both the Coconut and the Banana Skipper have several large hyaline spots but these are not obvious when the butterflies are at rest, unless you frighten them off their perch with a flash like this poor Coconut skipper below…    

"YAAAAAAAHHH!!!!"

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Comments
  1. Waterbaby says:

    I never see you 'round the others' anymore. You've been missed.

  2. Hi Waterbaby,
    Sorry I haven't been around much. I've hardly any time these days. I've started studying again and it takes up about 20 free hours in a week, which means none of the photos I posted are even processed, when I used to take about 6 hours to process every post's photos. What remaining time is dedicated to cleaning the house, cooking and just generally trying to keep things together. Hahaa… sorry for the neglect. I appreciate your reminders though. 🙂

  3. zhy says:

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