Archive for May, 2008
Photographing this roosting pair of Wompoo Fruit-Doves Ptilinopus magnificus was simply irresistible. Over the years, I have seen many asleep, but never so low to the ground.
They are large doves, reaching almost half-a-metre and are richly coloured, with white head, purple breast, green wings with a conspicuous yellow stripe and bright yellow undergarments.
Their call is deep and resonant, with human-like attributes; “wollack-woo”. They feed on a variety of rainforest fruits, which may be quite large in size and are eaten whole.
When I first spotted this messy web, I could barely make out the spider. In its own right, it was tiny; a mere 3-4 mm long, but in the circumstances of its concealment, it was marvellously blended into the broader clutter of debris, at the centre of the stabilimentum – the conspicuous feature of silk.
Under higher magnification, an enlarged, multi-coloured abdomen, together with a strategic positioning of legs, concealed the bulk of the spider’s cephalothorax. Upon closer scrutiny, its eyes were just distinguishable between its legs.
For the sake of appearance, colour can make a world of difference. In tropical rainforests, a bright upper canopy, rich in blue and UV, and a dark understorey, rich in green and orange, contrasts two distinct light environments.
When discretion is important, bright greens blend better in the upper canopy, whereas dark browns have the advantage in the understorey.
“Neil, I am going to disagree and suggest your ant is actually farming a mealybug, not an aphid. Also most of ‘the mass’ is the body of the mealybug – perhaps a third or fourth instar.” Read the rest of this entry »
Green tree ants Oecophylla smaragdina farm aphids for their honeydew. They are occasionally referred to as weaver ants because they form large leafy nests bound with silk. Through amazing co-operative strength, they form strings of hundreds of ants anchored at each end only, to forcibly move small branches into position. Other ants glue the leaves together with silk produced by squeezing their larvae.
They aggressively protect their nests and livestock, willingly biting any intruder and projecting streams of ascorbic acid to excite the sensitivity of wounds established with their choppers. If bitten, humans can retaliate in-kind and enjoy the health benefits of an abundant source of vitamin C.