Friday, January 27, 2012

Gea spinipes

This is a rather common spider found around grasses and low shrubs. Their webs are hardly more than 1 foot from the ground, often decorated with stabilimenta. The genus Gea (family Araneidae) is closely related to Argiope (often called St Andrew's Cross) and the more uncommon Neogea. Females can reach up to 11mm which makes them easy to spot and photographed. Sexual dimorphism is not as extreme although males are significantly smaller.

This spider has an extensive range throughout the tropics with records even in India. I often found then in large numbers among long grasses along trails, even nearby human settlements. Approaching one is considered easy as they do not easily startled. At most, the spider will move to the other side of the web in a flash.

So far I found them to be diurnal. They are especially easy to find in the morning following a raining night. The webs will be covered with water droplets, making them visible from quite a distance.

This one was seen moulting during daytime, about 11am or so, in a forest not far from Kuala Lumpur.

Small flying and hopping insects seem to be their main prey. Usually I found plant hoppers being caught and in one incident I saw an Aedes mosquito being devoured.

A contrast in size between sexes can be gauged from the video below.