Observation of the Week, 3/18/18

Biting midges feast on the hemolymph of a Giant Golden Orb-weaving Spider while it in turn sucks the juices from a wasp - this is our Observation of the Week! Seen in Singapore by @budak.

Parasites are, as we all know, a fact of life. And while we don’t often think of spiders as having them, budak’s photo shows that our eight-legged friends do have to deal with blood-sucking hitchhikers - just like the rest of us.

budak is a self-taught naturalist, who “grew up near forests, rivers, [and] mangroves in Malaysia” and has volunteered at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum in Singapore as well as participated in citizen science activities like Seagrass-Watch and the Comprehensive Marine Biodiversity Survey. He’s also the top iNaturalist observer in Singapore, having logged over 4,700 observations of 670 species! He uses iNat “as a 'repository' and an aid for identification/education thanks to the many experts for different taxonomic groups.”

Of course, one way to up your observation and species count is to find situations like flies feeding on a spider feeding on a wasp. budak recalls coming across this scene while on a photo walk in the Labrador Nature Reserve. “These large but harmless spiders are fairly common by trails/forest fringes in the region,” he says. “I saw this individual feeding on a scoliid wasp and wanted to take a closer look/shot, which revealed many biting midges on the cephalothorax.” His observation was originally published here, “although Art Borkent later shared that he believes the midges are Atrichopogon not Forcipomyia” explains budak.

One of the largest orb-weaving spiders in the world, female Giant Golden Orb-weavers can grow to body sizes of about 5 cm in body length and 20 cm if you include the legs. Males, however, are tiny - maxing out at 5-6 mm body length! Immensely strong, the silk of this spider is golden in color and females use it to build webs over a meter in diameter. Not only can they be parasitized by flies, but small kleptoparasitic Argyrodes spiders steal small prey from the large golden webs.

Whether the flies on this spider are Atrichopogon or Forcipomyia, they would be classified as biting midges of the family Ceratopogonidae. Called “no-see-ums” in North America and “midgies” in Scotland, biting midges are often considered pests to humans, as their bites can cause itchy welts. It is unknown if the spiders get itchy when bitten...

- by Tony Iwane

- Golden orb-weavers are just so cool. Some males deposit silk on the female when courting, and some females have been known to kill and eat birds.

- Golden orb silk has been woven to make an incredible textile that was on display at the Art Institute of Chicago. It was quite a process.

Publicado por tiwane tiwane, 18 de março de 2018, 11:51 PM


I wonder whether they can pollinate cacao.

Publicado por colinpurrington mais de 3 anos antes (Sinalizar)

ya, Forcipomyia (presumably the males) are the genus said to pollinate cacao https://askentomologists.com/2015/01/07/the-budding-relationship-of-a-midge-and-the-chocolate-flower/

Publicado por budak mais de 3 anos antes (Sinalizar)

@budak Yes, but per above post he decided these were Atrichopogon not Forcipomyia. I was wondering whether Atrichopogon can pollinate cacao. I can't find anything online. But not really that important ... I was just curious because I like chocolate.

Publicado por colinpurrington mais de 3 anos antes (Sinalizar)

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