Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sunflower - spiders

Some of the critters that live in the sunflower forest don't come for the flowers, but instead for the bees, flies, leaf-hoppers, beetles, and other insects that also live in the flower thicket.  I enjoy finding colored crab spiders, jumping spiders, green lynx spiders, and small orb weavers hidden in the leaves, and flowers.  The spiders waiting for their next meal of a small fly or bee must also be cautious for there are wasps, and birds looking to eat them!  The food web, and spider webs are visible in my back yard.   

Here are a few pictures of some predators from the forest.  The above photo is a male crab spider, perhaps a Northern Crab Spider, I'm not 100% on the id.  Do you see the boxing gloves by it's mouth?  Those are modified pedipalps used in mating, and only the male spiders have them.  I love jumping spiders (they're so cutie!), and was pleased to photograph a few.  I think they are all the same species, Peppered Jumpers, based on Valerie's Austin Bug Collection Site .  The dark colored individuals are males, and the gray one is a female.  You can also tell that the gray is a female because she is so plump with eggs.  

You can check out the last two posts about the sunflower forest, and Sunflower lovers- bees.  There are more photos to come of critters in the sunflower forest.