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“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” – Neil Armstrong (1930-2012)

Fresh Reads from the Science 'o sphere!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bugs In The City

I'll be spending more and more time in my room preparing my "unemployment pass", so there will be less smart-alecky posts in the coming weeks.

However, I will not be alone.

Sometimes I hear mysterious sounds from the dark corners of my room.

*crinkle crinkle*

Oh noes!

Is that a sexy, zither-playing ghost who enjoys frolicking in wet clothing?

You wish.

Despite living in a high-rise HDB flat, I share my living space with other denizens of our city who seem oblivious to classic Singaporean woes like rising prices and crowded public transportation.

Here's a critter who doesn't really need government incentives to make babies.

A mud dauber is hard at work turning my Creative satellite speaker into a new nest for its future kids.

See the piece of mud in its mouth? Obviously it believes in DIY and isn't planning to employ maids.

What I find cool about mud daubers is how they maintain a 3D mental image of a room.

If you close a bedroom window, they will come back through the door via the living room window.

If you close the living room window, they will come back through the balcony window.

Unlike stupid flies who bang their heads against a closed window until they die from sheer exhaustion, mud daubers always know where their nests are, and all the alternative routes to get there.

Fucking annoying amazing.

Doo dee doo dee doo...

*crinkle crinkle*

Here's the almost completed handiwork. One of the casing screw shafts has been plugged in by the dauber to become a comfy nest for its offspring.

It's almost as if it is telling us: "Screw your 'high technology' humans... as long as you make something with a deep hole in it, you will find my nest there. We win. HAH!"

That's not an idle threat - mud dauber nests can be deadly to human beings.

And this is a portrait of the buzzy little creature itself, elegant in metallic green.

A colour that isn't too different from this...

Metallic green is nice.

Speaking of green, here's another greenish bug who suddenly dropped in a couple of days ago.

Actually it sorta dropped dead just below my desk.

*twitch twitch...*


Eww... hairy!

It looks big in this picture, but in reality it's only about 1 cm long. I used to complain often about my Nikon L5's slow autofocus and lack of wide angle, but I have since come to appreciate its superb capability for macro photography.

I don't know what species of spider is this - it sure has an interesting pattern on its butt.

My, my... it's a spitting image of Jack Skellington from "The Nightmare Before Christmas"!

Well, maybe the nostrils are too far apart and the teeth looks funny, but from a normal viewing distance it looks pretty damned close.

I especially like the mosaic appearance of the "face".

So arty!

When I flipped it over, it resembles something else altogether.

The dreaded Alien Facehugger!

While this little green spider does have scary body parts, when you look at its actual face it seems rather docile, and (ignoring for the moment the fact that it has six eight eyes) it almost looks like a seal.

Just in case this is some sort of rare spider, I have preserved it in 70% ethanol for future study.

Don't hesitate to drop a line if you have more information about this species of spider!

Would you like to know more?

- A Guide to Common Singapore Spiders
- Evolution of the Hawaiian Happy-face Spider


angry doc said...

"inSects and the City". :)

(OK, I know spiders are not insects...)

Lab Rat said...

I'm guessing it's this guy - Kidney Garden Spider.

Lim Leng Hiong said...

To Angry Doc:

Yup, that was my draft title until I recalled that spiders have eight legs...

To Lab Rat:


It's a common spider - there goes my Nature paper...


Ree said...

Mud dauber nests are not "deadly to humans." Mud daubers abandon their nests immediately after laying their eggs, and never return. Mud daubers are some of the least aggressive wasps known. You might want to do some research before maligning your fellow organisms.

Oh, and spiders have eight eyes, not six.

Lim Leng Hiong said...

To Ree:

Welcome to Fresh Brainz!

"Mud dauber nests are not "deadly to humans." Mud daubers abandon their nests immediately after laying their eggs, and never return. Mud daubers are some of the least aggressive wasps known. You might want to do some research before maligning your fellow organisms."

Heh, I actually meant that tongue-in-cheek (as all that talk about metallic green dresses would suggest).

But it is true that a mud dauber nest has been implicated in the Birgenair Flight 301 crash, which I pointed out with the hyperlink on the word "deadly".

"Oh, and spiders have eight eyes, not six."

Thanks for the correction, I checked that Araneidae do in fact have eight eyes.

However not all spiders have eight eyes, a minority of them have six eyes.