What with the flooding in Thailand and my work commitments also, I have not been able to get out to the forest much lately. Hopefully, that will change soon as the weather has turned glorious and the dry season is firmly taking hold in central Thailand. I am eager to get back in the field with my hammock and have some longer forest sojourns under the winter stars.
The passing of the rains heralds the passing of the "insect season" for us in central Thailand and they are now becoming harder and harder to find.I decided for a quick one day trip to Khao Ang Rue Nai Wildlife Sanctuary in Chachonengsao this weekend to have a "last" insect trip of the year.
Khao Ang Rue Nai holds Thailand's last significant tract of lowland evergreen rainforest, and has been a favorite of mine for some time. Even though there is still standing water in some the lower sections, the forest's watercourses are drying fast and many are dry already. Leaves are falling already and it is noisy underfoot when walking. This has a plus side though, and at one our forest stops a crunching sound in the undergrowth alerted us, thinking it was a small mammal we ventured quietly forward, to discover a large reticulated python. Unfortunately by the time I had extracted myself from the dense secondary forest to get the camera ready the snake had disappeared into a huge abandoned termite mound - probably a regular resting place for it. It's blue and yellow skin was quite something to see up close - weird how the strangest color schemes work as camouflage.
Even though not much else was seen the forest pathway verges were teaming with webs of the wolf spider - Hippasa holmerae. The webs are very visible and consist of a sheet of web raised off the forest floor and commonly adjoined to a fallen branches or other vegetation, with a distinct round web funnel in the structure were the spider shelters. Their main prey are grasshoppers and katydids that land on the thick sheet web. The spider's eyes are in three rows comprising a front row of four small eyes, and a median and back row (not visible in the photograph) of two larger eyes each. Yet another fascinating, if small, forest creature.
Lawn Wold Spider (Hippasa holmerae) quietly waiting for prey.
Lawn Wold Spider (Hippasa holmerae) shown a) in it's web funnel and b) venturing on the sheet web
For an excellent listing and details of the spiders of Thailand, I recommend you visit the Siam Insect Zoo website. It really is an incredible source of entomological information for Thailand.