Buggin with Bridgey2022-12-23T05:10:03+00:00

Buggin with Bridgey – June 2024

Buggin with Bridgey is a Monthly report of sightings from the Let’s Go Buggin Cairns Nature & Photography Tour in the Cairns Botanical Gardens.  As the months roll by, subtle changes in the seasons bring sightings of new creatures and this report aims to give people a wrap up of the current animals seen as well as provide an ongoing citizen science account of our wonderful critters that can be seen in the Wet Tropics of Queensland.

Jumping Spiders in the Cairns Botanic Gardens

and the Wet Tropics of Queensland.

Part 1

Green Jumping Spider (Mopsus mormon) male

Welcome, fellow adventurers, to the enchanting realm of the Cairns Botanic Gardens and the Wet Tropics of Queensland, Australia. Here, amidst the lush greenery and breathtaking biodiversity, you’ll find some of nature’s most charismatic acrobats, the Jumping Spiders! These pint-sized daredevils, with their kaleidoscope of colours and quirky behaviours, are the unsung heroes of the arachnid world. So, grab your macro lens, or magnifying glass and prepare for a thrilling dive into the whimsical world of these eight-legged marvels. Let’s uncover their secrets, admire their agility, and celebrate their tiny yet mighty presence in the Cairns Botanic Gardens and Wet Tropics of Queensland.  This is Part 1 of this Blog, with part 2 coming in a month or so.

Whether they’re sneakily hunting down their next meal or just showing off their latest flips, these spiders are the true showstoppers of any garden.  There are a huge variety of Jumping Spiders, however they all share these similar traits and features.

Jumping Spiders have excellent vision with eight eyes, including two large, forward-facing eyes that give it an almost cartoonish appearance. This incredible eyesight helps them accurately judge distances and track prey.  They can leap up to 50 times their body length, thanks to their powerful legs and a unique hydraulic system that increases blood pressure in their limbs.  Unlike web-building spiders, the majority of Jumping Spiders prefer to sleep in silk retreats they construct under leaves or in crevices. These silk homes provide protection from predators.

Instead of spinning webs to catch prey, these spiders use their exceptional vision and jumping prowess to ambush insects. They carefully stalk their prey and then pounce with precision.  These spiders are known for their inquisitive behaviour. They often seem to watch people and especially cameras and other creatures, turning their heads to get a better view, which only adds to their endearing charm.  The following species are our commonly seen during Let’s Go Buggin Tours in the Cairns Botanic Gardens.  Part Two will feature the species that are not quite as common, but are equally fascinating.

Green Jumping Spider (Mopsus mormon) female

Green Jumping Spider (Mopsus mormon)

Say hello to the Green Jumping Spider, scientifically known as Mopsus mormon. This vibrant little arachnid is the punk rockstar of the Cairns Botanic Gardens and the Wet Tropics of Queensland. With its striking green hue and impressive acrobatic skills, the Green Jumping Spider doesn’t just blend into its lush surroundings, it stands out as one of the most charismatic critters you’ll encounter.  They will often look directly at the lens for you to get some great portraits. This species is sexually dimorphic, meaning males and females look different.  The females are green with splotches of red-brown.  While the males have black fore-legs and a black face with white side-burns and a black mohawk.  He is the punkiest Jumping Spider you will ever meet!

Cosmophasis Genes

Referred to as the Iridescent Jumping Spiders (Cosmophasis Genus) are truly some of the most photogenic and beautiful spiders you may ever come across.   Luckily for us on Let’s Go Buggin Morning Walks they are often encountered.  We have three species within the Genus that are regularly seen.

Sea-green Northern Jumper (Cosmophasis thalassina)

A sensationally sparkly jumping spider! Individuals can often be found on flowering plants and around green ant nests.  They have a varied diet, but will often hunt  Green Ants.  Unlike most Jumping Spiders this species will almost never look at the lens.  For some reason they just don’t seem to be able to comprehend us.  It’s an odd behaviour that I’ve noticed over the years trying to get that front on shot that is so favoured by macro photographers.  This species just will NOT cooperate.  If you happen to get lucky with them looking at the lens, it is so fleeting I have to believe that its accidental.  This species is sexually dimorphic, with the males looking completely different with black and iridescent blue colouration, while the females exhibit sparkles from the palette of a soft rainbow hues.  The females colouration and patterns can vary quite significantly as you can see from these different individuals.

Sea-green Northern Jumper (Cosmophasis thalassina) females

North Queensland Jumping Spider (Cosmophasis micarioides)

The fashionista of the Genus, the females of this species has a myriad of bold bright colours that can vary in individuals.  This is the larger of the genus and they are in common numbers.  Like the above-mentioned, they are sexually dimorphic and the males look extremely similar, however they can be told apart with a forward facing shot.  If the black lines pass through the centre eyes, they are this species, if not, they are C. thalassina.

North Queensland Jumping Spider (Cosmophasis micarioides) females and male

Green Ant-hunter Spider (Cosmophasis bitaeniata)

The ‘beauty and brains’ of the genus and my favorite of the three and possibly of all the Jumping Spiders that can be found in the Cairns Botanic Gardens and the Wet Tropics of Queensland, Australia.  These clever spiders can mimic the pheromones of their prey, Green Tree Ants (Oecophylla smaragdina).  They can safely hide within the surrounds of a Green Ant nest and like a ninja, they sneak in and capture larvae for their meal.

Green Ant-hunter Spider (Cosmophasis bitaeniata) females and male

Swifts’ Ant-hunter Spider (Zenodorus swiftorum)

This is by far the most common Jumping Spider in the Cairns Botanic Gardens and the Wet Tropics of Queensland, Australia.   Having an endless food source of Green Tree Ants, allows this species to flourish.  We can see upto 20 on any given Let’s Go Buggin Morning Walk.   They are extremely skittish, no doubt due to their prey being able to turn the tables and hunt them in huge numbers.

Swifts’ Ant-hunter Spider (Zenodorus swiftorum)

Slate-bellied Cytaea (Cytaea plumbeiventris)

Once, again a sexually dimorphic species, the females I call the ‘Marylin Monroe of Jumping Spiders’ with their big eyes, blond hair and voluptuous bodies.    The male looks a somewhat like a gansta from the 40’s with a pin-striped suit and a yellow moustache.    The females are especially common and they can be a decent size when fully grown allowing it reasonably easy to capture decent images of them without too much effort.   The males are smaller and less common.  They tent to be a bit more difficult to photograph as their personality is quite shy.

Slate-bellied Cytaea (Cytaea plumbeiventris) females above and males below

Leaping Northern Jumping Spider (Bavia aericeps)

In my experience, this is the largest Jumping Spider in the Wet Tropics region.   I’ve met one just under 3cm long and have seen a few just as big, possibly larger. They are an extremely curious jumping spider, and so aware and confident that they will often jump onto the camera or lens.   They can be lovely little poses too and if you are able to get your camera to eye level or just below with your aim, you can capture their beautiful big blue eyes.

Leaping Northern Jumping Spider (Bavia aericeps)

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the examples of the Jumping Spiders in the Cairns Botanical Gardens and the Wet Tropics of Queensland. If you would like to take a deeper dive into some other encounters you can check out my Let’s Go Buggin Project on iNaturalist here.

Keen for a Let’s Go Buggin Tour? Use ‘BRIDGEYBLOG’ as the coupon code for 15% discount on your tour booking here.

Next Blog in late July.

🕷 📸 💚

Bridgette

Bridgette uses a variety of Olympus OM SYSTEM Cameras and Lenses

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