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Wildlife photography at breakfast

September 3, 2012

While sipping coffee and reading the on-line news I happened to notice a small black ant running around in circles, obviously in panic. A few cm away was an equally small (3-4 mm) spider with raised front legs, patiently waiting for his venom to take effect. The panicked ant made a sudden stop, and remained motionless. The bold spider trotted up to his prey, plunged his fangs through the exoskeleton and began the feast.

The spider was quite colourful, and a quick look in Frances and John Murphy’s ‘Spiders of Southeast Asia’ revealed this is a Siler sp. of the Jumping spider family (Salticidae). The genus Siler can be found  from Japan to New Guinea.

The spider looked straight at me in surprise when my camera hovered over it. The large pair of eyes is typical of jumping spiders which have excellent vision and hunting skills. The authors of the spider book hypothesised this is an ant hunter: “A specimen of the colourful S. semiglaucus was seen to pursue, in a purposeful way, an ant on a tree trunk, but as the ant got away we were unable to decide if the ant was its prey”. This picture should remove all doubts.

Why would you waste time writing about creatures so small you can hardly see them? I have found that many people, Thais and foreign settlers alike, are afraid of most critters in their gardens. They spray pesticides of fear, spending money on creating an unhealthy environment of neurotoxins which may be linked to Parkinson’s disease. If you learn the names of your garden inhabitants, and if you learn their ecological role, they are no longer mysterious threats and so you can relax and better enjoy your garden.

If you wish to read more about common spiders in Chiang Mai gardens, simply write spider in the search box to the right. Remember, there are no deadly arachnids in Southeast Asia.

Text and Photo: Eric Danell

(Precipitation: 5 mm of rain this night and morning).

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 3, 2012 9:42 PM

    Beautiful photos, story. My thinking exactly – just enjoy and know about the inhabitants of your own yard. Even if they are harmful or poisonous, black widow comes to mind, they can be observed and enjoyed. Thanks.

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