Stabilmenta: spider’s web decorations

Stabilmenta are conspicuous patterns or decorations made by spiders – particularly orb-web spiders – in their webs. Google ‘stabilmenta’ (singular: stabilmentum) and you will see many wonderful examples of these structures, including crosses, spirals, zigzags and so on. There are a number of different theories as to why spiders make these structures, including: to attract…

Bright iridescent patches are honest signals!

Males butterflies in the family Lycaenidae, the so-called Blues, typically have brightly coloured, iridescent colours on the upper (dorsal) surfaces of their wings. Vivid blue iridescence such as this on the Purple Sapphire (Heliophorus epicles) shown here, is usually to do with courtship and mate recognition. The brightly coloured, iridescent males rely on so-called, structural colouration (described below), which…

Red Admirals – European migrants

Migrant Red Admirals Vanessa atalanta (L.), usually arrive in the UK during May and June each year. Like the closely related butterfly, The Painted Lady, Vanessa cardui (L.), these migrations of Red admirals originate from countries around the Mediterranean – possibly as far south as the North African coast. (2) The butterflies fly north on southerly winds to feed on new…

Bee-flies: the dipteran narwhals

I always enjoy seeing bombyliids (bee-flies). They sound like little helicopters, hovering and buzzing about, and their furry appearance gives them a certain cuteness. They are flies pretending to be bees! Not the easiest of insects to identify from photographs though. This one looks rather like Bombylius posticus, which has a wide Palaearctic distribution, but I am not…

Termites on a trail

I came across these termites moving along a water pipe on the Gully Trail at Wat Tham Pha Plong, Doi Chiang Dao, northern Thailand. The pipes provide water for the monks and their guests at the temple, but they also provide a convenient thoroughfare for the termites, helping them to move through the forest without…