18 July 2009

Spiders in the mangroves of Sungei Buloh

Joined Mendis and new friends at Sungei Buloh for another spider hunt this morning!
Spiders are among the most delightful and easy to observe animals in our mangroves. You just need to look closely and walk slowly.

Tiny jumping spiders (Family Salticidae) are hard to photograph! The little white spots on the butt of this jumping spider made me think that was its head. But the head is on the opposite end and is enormous! Ringed with beady eyes.
With the humungous eyes facing front! This spider might be Thorelliola ensifera.
Their eye arrangement gives jumping spiders an almost 360 degree view around them. The huge eyes in front act like telephoto lenses while the smaller ones on the sides act like wide angle lenses. Together, the eyes allow the spider to detect movement, recognise their prey, judge distance accurately for that deadly pounce to capture and kill.

Other spiders lurk within leaves, and are equally tricky to shoot. I'm not sure what spider this is.
The rest of the team also found interesting spiders such as a Huntsman spider (Family Sparassidae) carrying an egg case.
Mendis found lots of interesting spiders in the blades of the long grasses by the route. He also shared this find of little ants in a blade of grass. They had woven a delicate silken fabric between the edges of the grass blades and we could see them and their larvae in their cosy home.
We take a closer look at ants, as some spiders do look like ants!
There were many different kinds of grasshoppers. Some were highly decorated.
Others were tiny with big eyes.
I think this is some kind of grasshopper. There were several seen today.
Brandon found this golden cocoon. We wonder what might hatch out of it.
And there was this traffic jam of bugs on a slender stem.
An amusing little beast is this insect that has white 'gloves' and usually holds its 'hands' together in front of it!
Alas, I don't know what all these magnificent little creatures are.

One of the team members also spotted a gecko! I only managed one shot of it before it scurried away. It had a spiny tail so it may be the Spiny-tailed house gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus).
It's important to look closely as even large animals can be hidden in plain sight. Such as this young Malayan water monitor (Varanus salvator) in a dead hollow tree. (Ivan says this is a Clouded monitor (Varanus bengalensis) from the location of its nostrils! See the comment to this post)
Here's a closer look at it. It didn't move even as several of us carefully took photos of it.
Of course, we saw spiders too! We came across this elegant spider in her orb web which had caught a little red fly.
When I got home and processed the photos, I realised she has delicate feathery hairs on her legs! I'm not sure what she is. Perhaps a member of the Family Uloboridae?
We came across the Ant-like crab spider (Amyciaea lineatipes). The spider not only looks like Weaver ants (Oecophylla smaragdina), but also eats them! And there were a lot of weaver ants out and about today. Some of them gave Mendis a lot of grief.
We also saw this Red tent spider (Cyrtophora unicolor) outside her leafy shelter. A closer look reveals why. She has caught lunch and is wrapping it up in silk!
All this feeding and feasting is making us hungry, so we head back for lunch! Thanks to Mendis for organising the outing. It was great fun spotting all kinds of animals in our mangroves.

To get updates on the next Spider Hunt and other mangrove activities at Sungei Buloh, join the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve Volunteeers on facebook. More about Sungei Buloh on the reserve website and wildsingapore.

I also saw some rare mangrove plants at the Reserve today!

Mendis also shared MORE photos of this trip on his blog.

Links to more


  1. The monitor lizard is actually the clouded monitor (Varanus bengalensis). In your close-up, you can see that the nostril is located halfway between the tip of the snout and the eye. If it was a water monitor, the nostrils would be much closer to the tip of the snout.

  2. WOW, thanks Ivan for the ID correction. That's fascinating to know.



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