Saturday, May 17, 2008

Golden Orbs and Jade Flowers

Remember the afternoon I spent watching the golden orb spider catch and devour a butterfly? Well I finally got my act together to post the photos I took of that gruesome event.

In the past three days all the golden orb spiders I've seen, and some that I've heard about from other people seem to be letting their nests fall apart. And this morning the big spider that was hanging over the barramundi fish pond off the dining deck here at the Rainforest Hideaway had disappeared, presumably fallen to her death and the barramundi's breakfast. conversations with locals about this phenomena are hypothesizing that the golden orbs are dying off for the winter, and that cold weather or another trigger in the past three days has sent them all into decline. I'm personally finding the weather very mild so I'm not convinced that the temperature is the trigger, but then I'm not a spider and I'm not a local so I can't really judge.

Golden Orb spider catching Green Spotted Triangle butterfly and starting to wrap it in silk ( right)
Golden Orb continuing food preparation ( left)

One morning Alison, my WWOOF host at the Exotic Fruit Farm took me to visit her neighbour Dawn at Gray's Farmstay, also a tropical fruit orchard and where I happened to stay when I visited Cape Trib in January. Dawn showed us her jade flowers in bloom, and they really are the most extraordinary and beautiful flowers. The vine is growing all over a big tree and the flowers hang down in long bunches taller than me. Close up each blossom is exquisite, with the stamen hidden inside a little pouch so cunningly concealed that I can't imagine how this plant ever gets pollinated. Aren't the colours unusual?

Jade Flower in situ (above) and in detail (right)


Carol said...

Great spider photos. I've been watching one in the garden of the Australian Museum, huge web and lots of parcels of food. We are expecting very cold weather tonight so I'll be interested to see if she is still there on Monday or maybe killed off by the cold or gone into hiding. Jade flowers are stunning, what a glorious colour! And mangosteens - I just ate my first one a few weeks ago and it lived up to its reputation as queen of tropical fruit. Love hearing about your WWOOFing adventures. Carol

Anonymous said...

I love jade flowers. I've only ever seen them in botanical collections in greenhouses so it's lovely to see one in its natural environment.