Welcome house guests

One day in the summer I noticed a crane fly sitting on the outside of a window so I grabbed my camera with the macro lens and went on a bug hunt round the house. And these are the beasties I found lurking:

Male house spider, Tegenaria gigantea, with a glint in his eye

It was a murky day so the pictures I took in the house required the flash, so I experimented with the flash power, the ISO, and used the smallest aperture I could to maximise the depth of field (DOF). The ones I took through the window didn’t require the flash, but I kept the ISO higher, again so I could maximise the DOF:

Crane fly or daddy longlegs, Tipula paludosa, revealing one of the more bizarre head designs in the animal kingdom

On the same window as the crane fly were a number of garden spiders (Araneus diadematus) including this male:

The same male garden spider wrapping up a hoverfly

The crane fly was playing a dangerous game running the gauntlet of the garden spiders but it managed to avoid getting eaten. The garden spider above was on the window for weeks and was rather larger at the end, demonstrating that ambush predation is a highly successful strategy when combined with a sophisticated web to ensnare the prey.

Female oak bush cricket, Meconema thalassinum

It’s not uncommon in the summer for oak bush crickets to appear in the house and there’s no mistaking this creature. the one here is a female which is immediately apparent from her long ovipositor protruding from the back end. They are common all over the south of England and are carnivorous, feeding on small insects, so they’re welcome in the house.

And another carnivore which I’m happy to provide accommodation for is the daddy long legs spider:

Daddy long legs spider, Pholcus phalangioides, with a few of her many offspring

The daddy long legs spider looks so delicate but is a voracious predator and will catch and eat the much chunkier house spider as well as its siblings!

11 responses to “Welcome house guests

  1. I love insects. We have different Daddy Longlegs here in Australia to yours. I have beautiful green orb weavers in my veggie garden playing the part of natural pest management. It would be nice if they were a bit more selective about what they ate and stuck to the pest species and bypassed the bees and the butterflies but that’s nature for you! Happy New Year to you and Yours Finn and here’s to 2015 being a new adventure and a most excellent chance to live and learn 🙂

    • Hey Fran, under your permaculture regime there are hopefully enough of all types of insects in your garden to go round, it’s all in balance.

      And a very happy and productive 2015 to you and the crew at Serendipity Farm! Keep posting.

      • And the same felicitations to you and your family Finn and here’s to us all holding up the environmental side of the bargain on both sides of the world through 2015 and documenting our insects to the max :). Steve has been trying to get photos of our butterflies on the flowering buddleias but do you think they will stay still when he is near them! We can sit on the deck about 5 metres away from them and the plant is covered with butterflies but as soon as he gets his camera out…none! I think they have camera receptors that warn them when a camera is coming close! 😉

      • Thanks Fran, those pesky insects know what you’re up to. Sounds to me like Steve needs a longer telephoto to get up close.

      • He just paid an arm and a leg for the camera, has to save up for the telephoto 😉

  2. That last image is fascinating. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a photo of a spider with its offspring before. Thanks for sharing Finn.
    That bush cricket reminds me of a cricket I photographed once and didn’t know its name (I rarely see insects on my walks in the inner city and if I do, they don’t stay still for me to photograph).

    • I had a few of those spider families in the house last year. It was a good year for invertebrates in this part of the world due to long mild spells and there are still daddy long legs spiders patrolling the house now. I’m expecting a healthy population in 2015 too, if these little ones grow to adulthood. But they’re not averse to a little cannibalism so they’ll probably keep their own numbers in check.

  3. A positive nightmare for arachnaphobes. Fortunately, I’m not one of them. Like you, I’m delighted to find them in the house. Finding crickets indoors seems surprising to me, but I don’t know if they venture this far north. Grasshoppers of some variety certainly appear outside in the summer, if you can spot them.

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