365 Days – Round 2 by Samantha Goode! Day 2 – Wednesday 25th March 2015

  

This afternoon, as I was sitting outside, a little Mynah bird visited my veranda with what seems to be a gift – it brought me what I thought was a hermit crab! A live one. It left it on the wooden rail and flew off straight away! It wasn’t frightened by me, it was like it purposely came here to leave it. 

As it had survived being in the mouth of a mynah bird, I thought I’d try and save it and put it in some water until I could take it to a beach. 

As I gently knocked it off the railing, it fell, but as it fell, it spun a thread…it wasn’t a crab, it was a spider! Like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I don’t do spiders. But as it was now submerged in water, I didn’t want it to die, so I released it into some grass far enough away from my home. 

I actually kind of felt sick when I realised it was a spider – it was a fair size one!! 

I’ve researched it and it’s actually called a bird poop spider! You learn something new every day! It’s given that name because it looks like bird poo.

Here’s some info on them; 

Identification

One of the best known Bird-dropping Spiders is Celaenia excavata. Other names for this spider are the Death’s Head Spider, as its markings can also resemble the shape of a skull, and the Orchard Spider, because it is often seen on fruit trees where moths, its main source of food, may be abundant.

Its large size, distinctive colour pattern and resting posture all make this dung mimicking spider hard to mistake. The abdomen is broad and triangular in shape, concave along midline, and has a pair of roughened humps towards the rear. The legs are usually held folded against body.

Size range

12 mm (female); 2.5 mm (male)

Distribution

The Bird-dropping Spider is found throughout much of eastern and southern Australia and have even been recorded from Uluru in central Australia. They are moderately common in suburban gardens but often overlooked.

Habitat type

Vegetation Habitat: open woodland

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

Feeding and Diet

The Bird-dropping Spider also uses mimicry of a quite different sort to capture its prey, which consist almost exclusively of male moths. At night the Bird-dropping Spider hangs from the edge of a leaf or twig on a short silk thread, its forelegs outstretched. While doing this it releases a chemical scent (pheromone) that mimics the airborne sex pheromone released by female moths to attract their mates. The unfortunate male moths that are attracted by the spider’s deceiving pheromone eventually flutter close enough to the spider to be grabbed by its strong front legs.

– See more at: http://australianmuseum.net.au/bird-dropping-spider#sthash.SYYOD0kT.dpuf

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