Invertebrates may not be the first thing that come to mind when you think of mothers. Yet there are a number of dedicated mothers to be found in the Cairns Botanic Gardens and the Wet Tropics. Some people may have not considered parenting of arthropod but their commitment and dedication to their offspring is just as strong as many in mammals and birds.
If you look close enough there is a huge amount of mothering going on. You can see them high up in a tree, or hidden on a leaf, they are always on duty looking after their babies. In the Cairns Botanic Gardens and Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, you’ll find mothers in all shapes, sizes and habitats, and some that might surprise you. All mums out there – take a bow!
Ornate Crab Spider (Poecilothomisus speciosus)
Also known as a Beautiful Crab Spider, this absolute stunner species is in the genus Thomisidae. I’ve seen a small number of these species, and I am proud to say that I’m one of a handful of people to see a male and capture a photo. I’ve seen them in various locations in the Wet Tropics and the majority of those observations were found in the Cairns Botanic Gardens. To my absolute shock and excitement, I finally came across a female with an egg sack. Not just once, but twice in the last month. I thought I was going to see babies from this species back in 2019 when I had one on a palm leaf hanging from the neighbour’s tree until one day the landlord cut it off when I wasn’t home and so my hopes to see those babies were stolen from me. Hurmmmf!
The fact that I haven’t stumbled across another one since, leads me to believe that these moments are rarely seen and to have two going on simultaneously, and only 50 meters away from each other was pretty damn cool! I have been on the hunt for this scene for about 4 years!
I was able to watch this female over several days, and I observed that the process of the babies leaving the egg sack was surprisingly slow. Babies were really seeking protection from mumma and were very slow to emerge from underneath the sack. I believe there were still other babies in the sack as well. On my third visit to this scene was when they were most active and on the last day I saw some of them ballooning (releasing their own silk line) into the rainforest and leave the nest.
Pretty sure mumma was just standing guard the whole time. I doubt she ate, unless something landed close to her. She was not going to abandon her precious bundle of beauties.
To see my previous ‘Observations’ of this species, including an very rarely seen male, check them out on my Let’s Go Buggin iNaturalist Project. To see the full collection of this mum and her babies, check out my Instagram Feed.
Cropped images showing Ornate Crab Spider (Poecilothomisus speciosus) fiercely protecting her spiderlings
Mourning Gecko (Lepidodactylus lugubris)
A few years I saw these little white balls stuck to smooth crevices on tree trunks and wonder…what is that?! There was a thought of fungi? I posted to a couple of Facebook Groups and a lot of people said ‘Fungi’. However, there were a few comments about Gecko eggs, which made a lot of sense but I didn’t see the gecko around these. They were probably there, hiding in plain sight with their amazing camouflage, but I didn’t notice them. I wanted to find one near the eggs to document the evidence of the mysterious white balls. Eventually, I found one sitting clutching the eggs on a night walk and was able to capture this lovely mumma showing her mothering duties.
Mourning Gecko (Lepidodactylus lugubris) guarding her eggs in a dugout section of tree trunk.