Spiders & Insects of Thailand Koh Samui 2017

Spiders & Insects of Thailand Koh Samui 2017

Thailand offers a rich insects and spider fauna. There is a new discovery around every corner. It is crawling and flying and buzzing everywhere.
South East Asia is a paradise when you are looking for spiders and insects. Similar to Africa and South America you will find great diversity here. Spiders, beetles, mantises, flies and many more are competing with bursting colors and crazy forms.

Usually you will not find as many species on an island as on the mainland but they are highly specialized therefor.
In 2017 I was staying on Koh Samui in the gulf of Thailand for 2 weeks and was looking for subjects to photograph whenever I had some time to do so.
I did not find as many jumping spiders as I had expected but this was due to the fact that I was mainly looking in urban areas and did not explore the jungle.

The most interesting findings besides the usual jumpers were several mantids and ants.
Observing weaver ants building their characteristic nests was quite interesting – always avoiding to disturb them:
their mandibles are like little razorsharp blades that cut through skin and flesh like through butter.
It does not even hurt at first because the cuts are so fine but believe me, it will hurt later…

Weaver ant showing off its razorsharp mandibles on Koh Samui, Thailand
Weaver ant showing off its razorsharp mandibles on Koh Samui, Thailand
Weaver ant cutting through the skin of my hand with its mandibles
A weaver ant cutting through the skin of my hand with its mandibles. Its abdomen raised in defensive mode, ready to spray formid acid.
A closer look at the intricate details of a weaver ant´s body structures.
With their mandibles weaver ants hold different leaves while others connect them and roll them over the others. The many ants work like staplers.
Weaver ants roll up leaves to build their nests in tree canopies.
Weaver ants farm larvae for their secretions and guard them in exchange.

Here is a selection of what else I have encountered on Koh Samui, from jumping spiders to mantids, to strange creatures like the so called thrips.:

Plexippus petersi jumping spider from Koh Samui
Plexippus petersi male
Thiania bhamoensis male, the so called fighting spider. Males wrestle each other with their leg pair I.
Frontal look at the Thiania bhamoensis male and its elongated leg pair I.
Setae scales on jumping spider´s cephalothorax
Colourful iridescent scales on the cephalothorax of a tiny jumping spider.
Depending on the direction the light, the colour of these so called setae, the little scales covering the spider´s body, changes.
This jumping spider´s scales have a beautiful green metallic sheen to them.
A beautifully spotted jumping spider on a dried leaf.
Jumping spiders have good vision and observe the photographer whenever he gets too close.
Here the 8 eyes are visible, giving the spider an almost 360 degree field of view. While the median eyes produce an accurate image of the surroundings, the lateral eyes register movements and enable the spider to quickly react to threats approaching from the sides or from behind.
Many tiny jumping spiders do look plain with the naked eye but show fascinating details and colours up-close. From our typical top-view the white ‘beard’ of this salticid is not visible.
Getting down to eye-level open up a completely new view.
A female and a male Argiope sp. spider hanging next to each other in the female´s web. Size difference is very prominent here with the female being several times as big as the male spider.
This spider lives and hunts on tree bark, where it built a silken retreat.
The so called pseudopupil of a mantis´eye is only an illusion – there is no real pupil. Mantids have compound eyes.
Green mantids blend in perfectly with the lush green vegetation of Koh Samui´s jungles.
Green mantis portrait
Mantids always seem to keep an eye on us, thanks to their pseudopupil.
This specimen flew right onto me in suburban Maenam.
Wasps building their nest on barbwire fence right next to the street connecting two villages.
Another work-in-progress nest of these wasps.
Thysanoptera thrip in Thailand
Thysanoptera, also called thrips, are slender, minute (many 1 mm long or less), insects with fringed wings and unique asymmetrical mouthparts. Most species feed on plants and puncture and suck up the juices, while a few have a predatory lifestyle.
Being an island there are lots of crabs running around on the beaches and nearby areas.
Sometimes even sea snakes get washed onto the beaches although the intense sun burns their skin/scales rather fast, leaving them to die if they are not able to get back into the ocean quickly.
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