Aug 162020

Did you find all six species in the last post? I didn’t expect anyone to “tell all” but, since they have, here is the list. Human, ragwort, beetle (a soldier beetle I think), a cinnabar moth caterpillar, a hoverfly (it’s a bee mimic so I will let you have bee!) and, of course, the yellow crab spider. Six in all. I have looked at the photograph many times and the crab spider camouflage continues to amaze me.  Apparently they can make reversible colour changes. Personally, I don’t understand how a modern digital camera captures and stores images and then how the images are displayed on a monitor. But I know that many people do. But how does a crab spider “see” its background  and then communicate that information to its cuticle which responds by changing colour? Incredible. To give Sally due credit she did see the spider, the beetle and the caterpillar and if the beetle had been more obliging the original picture would have been even better. Just a shame about the thumb.

But what I really wanted was a picture of the cinnabar caterpillar. Why you may ask? Well we have only 85 photographs of them and I think we need more! This is my favourite (so far). It was taken 5 years ago on Sheppey and shows a 7-spot ladybird and a cinnabar on hoary ragwort. All three contain toxins – chemical warfare in the undergrowth. Both pictures show how important ragwort is for many invertebrate species.

My reason for highlighting the crab spider though is because most of Nature is the same – hidden from view and mostly unknown (and barely understood). If we could remember this more often we would have more respect and humility for the natural world.

Thanks to Sally for the pictures,


PS. Don’t forget to support the Swanscombe campaign.

 Posted by on 16 August 2020 at 9:22 pm