Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Spider and the Fly

The Spider and the Fly
“Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly,
'Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I've a many curious things to shew when you are there.”

“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair
-can ne'er come down again.”

- by Mary Howitt, 1829
Returning from a run I was looking at the flowers in the back alley and I noticed a fly sitting still on a flower. That seemed a little odd, flies don't normally sit still like that. Here's what I saw: (click on the photos to view larger)


The fly was still because it was dead. If you look close you can see the well camouflaged hunter. I ran home, grabbed my camera, put on the macro lens and headed back.  I figured it would still be there since spiders inject digestive enzymes into their prey and then suck out the resulting mush, a relatively slow process. On the positive side, it does allow eating prey bigger than you are!


Originally the spider was on top of the flower, but of course when I started taking photos it retreated to the underside, even though I promised not to steal its fly. This made it a little more challenging to take photos.

I ended up crouched in the long grass, at which point I became the mosquitos' prey and they did their best to suck my juices. So I didn't stay as long as I would have otherwise!

This was taken with the K3 and the 100mm Pentax macro lens which, as you can see, does a great job. I like how it captured the other tiny insects on the flower, even though I didn't notice them when I was taking the photos. As usual, focus was an issue, but I shot lots and picked the best. I probably should have tried setting a smaller aperture (larger f-stop) to get a bigger depth of focus.

It's very cool how the spider is colored perfectly to blend in with the flower. I don't know if these are native flowers, but presumably there must be some native flower with the same color that it evolved to hide on. Does anyone know what kind of spider it is?

See all 5 photos as a slideshow or overview

Update: I think it was a Goldenrod or flower crab spider. They can change color and are hunters rather than web builders.

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