Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cyclosa

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I admire photography as a hobby. It keeps you active, keeps your eyes and mind alert to take note of changes taking place, and gives you avenues to learn more about generally everything you get to shoot.

My eye-opener this time was the tiny Cyclosa spider. Having first caught it on the camera, I was stuck unaware of its identity to write or share anything about it. I posted its pictures on my photo forum and was instantaneously rewarded with details of the spider. My thanks to Saly in the Panasonic forum on Steve’s Digicams site for directing me to Aniruddha Dhamolikar’s blog, and to Aniruddha himself for his beautiful blog that gave me interesting info about this spider.

Coming to the subject, Cyclosa is a spider belonging to the Aranidae family and is an orb weaver. Its speciality is the way it builds its web. The web consists of a regular frame, close spiral line of web from the outward edge up to about two-thirds of the centre, a little free space and then the central home.
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The central portion of the web contains a small chain of debris that includes the body parts of its prey insects, egg sacs, etc. and it builds it in such a way that the debris collection resembles itself. The spider itself is shaped with such an irregular body that when it sits at one end of the debris home, it completely gels with the debris and you cannot realise its presence.
Cyclosa spider

In addition, it spins a circular pattern of thicker yarn around its home that attracts attention and makes prey fall for it (see the second photo from top). I also read in a BBC article that Cyclosa builds its debris in a shape that is a life size replica of itself! Why it does so has quite a few answers including attracting its predators, which baffles scientists and the exact cause of such behaviour is still being researched.

It is NOT a rare spider and can easily be found in bushes and thickets all over our country, if you know just where and what to look for.

For me, it gave me quite a challenge to photograph because of its tiny size. Still, I think I have achieved a decent quality of images of itself and its web.
cyclosa spider

These and other photos that I caught of the spider can be viewed in my flicker album http://www.flickr.com/photos/raghu_ambattur/sets/72157625482099878.

If you find this post interesting, please post your comments here. I would appreciate it very much.

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