India is a land of bio diversity. The sub-tropical climate is responsible for the huge variety of available flora and fauna across the country. From the cold dry zone of the north to the hot and swealtry heat of the south, the hot dry desert of the west to the thick forest of the north east, our country is full of multiple habitats that form the home to variety of forest and wildlife resources.
I am an avid insect photographer and over the years of active fieldwork, my eyes have trained themselves up to capture the miniature creatures that might be hiding underneath the leaves or in the deep crevices of the branches. They may even be highly camouflaged with their surroundings. Camouflaging is an extreme art mode adapted by the insects wherein they blend with the color or the texture of the leaves or branches where they live. It needs a practiced and experienced eye to trace them and not be fooled to overlook.
Summer has been at its peak in Bengal since last couple of months. The oppressive heat and dry weather condition is not too suitable for insect sighting unless one cleverly knows where to find them and how to identify them. I was out for fieldwork on one such weekend. The heat was too much to bear for me. Once I entered the forest, the hot and humid weather inside was suffocating me. My expert eyes were on a watch out for my subjects. I got my gear ready and focused on the potential locations. Sweat dripped down my face and I was getting wet. The dry leaves smashed under my shoes and the fragrance of the wild leaves rubbing against me made the air heavy. I was working in the deep bushes where the cobwebs touched my face and I had to detangle myself from the bunch of cobweb, dry leaves and bits and pieces of fallen material.
Suddenly that caught my experienced eyes was a minute movement of a hair like object on a leaf. Ignoring it at first, I wanted to focus away but the movement made me inquisitive. I looked intently into my lens and clicked on. Very agile, very fast, very small and thread like, it was difficult to focus and capture; and later it turned out to be a new species of spider that I was capturing. It wasn’t aggressive at all; hence I presume it may not be poisonous too. Rather it went on to demonstrate a few acrobatic… no, rather Yoga movements and after more than 50 minutes of my continuous effort, I could finally manage a desired angle to my satisfaction.
What caught my eyes were its body structures. Thin elongated cylindrical abdomen is what it was mostly made up of. The spider was of a fresh beautiful green colored that helped it to be camouflaged among the leaf it was doing Yoga on…I smiled I clicked and I was happy. I spent some good quality time observing its movements. I observed that it used toothed bristles on the end segment of the last leg to comb out swathes of sticky silk to rapidly entangle its prey, usually other baby spiders.
Once I returned home, I sat to learn more about it. What surprised me is that as it can hold its slender body straight like a twig for long, it is also known as twig spider. But since it can also bend it like a whip (I prefer calling it the Yoga Posture☺), it is often called Whip spider too. Females are usually of 22mm and males are much smaller at 13mm. Because of their narrow body, they are difficult to spot between dead grass and sticks.
They are beautiful, they are amazing…they are spiders from the Ariamnes species!!!