The Art Of Deception Part 1

Earth is filled with mysteries and hidden treasures that are yet to be found. Out of which the most abundant prize that’s far more valuable than materialistic items like gold and silver is the flora and fauna of our planet. Our planet is home to a plethora of organisms that thrive in unique ecosystems that help provide balance and stability to our planet. Certain sets of fauna have evolved with unique sets of abilities and adaptations that survive in the wild. One such ability is camouflage i.e. The ability to hide in plain sight which is used for either hunting or getting away from predation. As the title suggests, the article will be divided into 2 parts, in the 1st part, we’ll be talking about Arachnids. Arachnids are a class of jointed legs invertebrates that include animals like spiders, mites, scorpions and tailless scorpions. We’ll be talking about spiders in the 1st part of this article, I hope y’all enjoy it.

Hersilia (Hersilia Sp)

Also known as the two-tailed spider, Hersilia is a genus of tree trunk spiders that are found in Asia and Africa. Similar to most spiders, female Hersilia's are longer than males (females: 8–10mm, males: 5–8mm). Hersilia is dull colored which allows it to camouflage with the environment.

Hersilia savignyi

Diet And Adaptation

Hersilia like other spiders has their bodies divided into two segments or sections:

  1. Prosoma (Cephalothorax) and
  2. Opisthosoma (Abdomen)

Hersilia consists of 4 pairs of legs, with their 3rd pair being smaller than the rest of them. They possess a dorsally flattened and ovoid carapace, as well as a broad cephalothorax. Their dorsum is yellowish in colouration with a dark band on it and their legs are yellowish with brown bands on them. They also possess 8 simple eyes that are arranged in 2 rows. Sex can be identified by the size and shape of their pedipalps (male spiders have thick and enlarged pedipalps and females have thin and slender pedipalps). Their diet consists of smaller insects like houseflies, ants, and other small insects. They play an important role as biological pest controllers.

Hersilia Savignyi eating a fly

Lichen Huntsman Spider (Pandercetes celatus)

Picture Credit: Pinterest

One of 2 species that are found in India, Pandercetes celatus also known as the Lichen Huntsman spider is part of the family that contains one of the longest spiders in the world. However, lichen huntsman spiders aren't the longest in their family only measuring around 15mm long and having a leg span of around 50mm. Found in Tropical Asia and Australia, these spiders are experts in the art of deception.

Picture Credit: Encyclopedia Of Life

Diet And Adaptation

These spiders might look beautiful and charming on sight, but don't let that appearance fool you, they are agile and vicious ambush predators that use their camouflage to stay hidden from predators (geckos and birds) and their prey (small arthropods, small lizards and frogs)

As mentioned above, all spiders have bodies divided into 2 sections:

  1. Prosoma and
  2. Opisthosoma
  3. Legs have lateral hairs that show a feathery appearance, allowing them to camouflage properly.
  4. Males have irregular coils at the terminal ends while females have screw-like copulatory ducts.
  5. This genus is described on the basis of their reproductive structure

As mentioned above Lichen Huntsman spider isn't one of the biggest members of the Huntsman spiders with their dimensions mentioned earlier. Their camouflaging ability makes them one of the perfect predators of their mini ecosystem.

Long Jawed Orb Weaver Spiders(Tetragnatha)

Picture Courtesy: Flickr

One of the most unique spider species that I recently stumbled upon, the long-jawed orb weaver or simply known as stretch spiders, is one of the most intriguing spider species I've ever observed in my life. They possess incredibly long front legs. Adults of this family measure up to 12mm (0.5 inches) long. These spiders are commonly found on all the continents except Antarctica.

Diet And Adaptations

As mentioned earlier, these spiders have long forelegs but, there are some more unique characteristics that make this spider an expert in deceiving its predator and prey. They have slender elongated bodies which they stretch to hide in thin vegetation allowing it to camouflage within its surroundings and hunt it's prey. They mostly feed on small insects like flies, moths and other small insects.

  1. They have elongated bodies
  2. Use venom to kill prey.
  3. Possess longer pedipalps due to which this species can only be identified by microscopic examining of its anatomy.
  4. Offsprings of this species travel through air by using silk threads holding on to them as they float in the air, also known as ballooning.
  5. They often stay in the same location if food supply is abundant, but may move if any changes occur.

Wrap Around Spiders (Dolophones conifera)

The last entry of this list is also an interesting species of spider that is really mind boggling. Wrap Around Spiders are a species of spiders that are found in Western Australia. Having a body length of 15mm, these spiders are well known for their ability to hide from their prey and are one of the most efficient predators of their ecosystem.

Picture Credit:

Diet and Adaptation

Picture Credit: My Modern Met

As mentioned above, these spiders are well known predators in their domain but what makes them such efficient predators?

The answer to this question lies in its name "Wrap Around", these spiders have a flattened upper surface that resembles a shield or disc. They prey on a plethora of insects that get stuck on their webbing. This adaptation along with their brownish color allows them to perfectly camouflage on dry barks and branches where they wait for prey to pass, grabbing them and injecting them with venom and giving their prey a slow painful death!

So this is the part 1 of this 2 legged series of the art of deception. In part 2, we'll meet some more deadly and unique masters of disguise that will surely get you all intrigued and mindblown. Hope y'all enjoy it.

As always take it easy

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Abhidyu Ajila

A zoology student who talks animals, conservation, evolution and geography