Peek-a-bug: insects lurking in flowers!

The last 20 years have seen a remarkable revolution in photography (below). I often think how lucky I am have been to have lived, and taken photographs, throughout the transition from analogue to digital cameras. There should be a name for Baby boomers like myself who have straddled the digital divide! My first digital camera…

Spiders and mites on gorse

Gorse is beautiful plant, although best viewed from a distance, rather than walked through, as it is incredibly spiny and prickly. The sharp spines are, however, a tremendous advantage if you are small enough to live within their protection. It is also a plant that is remarkably variable in terms of its flowering period and…

Spiders, silk and packed lunches

We rather take spiders for granted. We are all aware of them in our homes and gardens; some people like them, some people loathe them. But they really are amazing animals with some extraordinary abilities. Like producing silk; supposedly the toughest natural fiber in the world and as strong as steel. They have also been…

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…

Stingless bees and resin bugs

The peculiar shape of this nest entrance caught my eye. Bees were moving in and out of the trumpet-shaped nest which was located below a large dipterocarp tree, at the foot of Doi Chiang Dao mountain, north of Chiang Mai, Thailand. These waxy nests are constructed by stingless bees (Meliponini tribe of the family Apidae),…

Pompilid spider killer

I came across this magnificent spider wasp (Pompilidae) feeding on nectar from these flowers beside the steps leading up to Wat Tham Pha Plong, Chiang Dao, Thailand. I have come across this pompilid wasp before in northern Thailand (1), but I am still not sure what species it is. With its orange antennae, it looks similar to the…