These are pretty rubbish quality, since I still need to get a lens for my proper camera, and I only took these on a very old phone. But I’m a huge lover of spiders, snakes, and insect photography, and one day I’d love to be in a position to actually study them and learn the names, and more information about them.
I had a lovely walk up by Lissi Lake, near Tbilisi, Georgia recently, and I think its going to become my new stomping ground as there was so much to see, and I’d happily spend hours there with my camera. Here are some of my pics, if you know the names of any of the creatures, please tell me as I really want to learn more.
UPDATE: So my father and also Tako from the Zoo, informed me that this is a juvenile ‘ringed’ European grass snake, or natrix natrix. Apparently, you can tell it isn’ an adder, by the fact that it is in the water, something that adders don’t do.
The name natrix is probably derived from the Latin nare or natare “to swim”.
The grass snake is typically dark green or brown in colour with a characteristic yellow collar behind the head, which explains the alternative name ringed snake. The colour may also range from grey to black, with darker colours being more prevalent in colder regions, presumably owing to the thermal benefits of being dark in colour. The underside is whitish with irregular blocks of black, which are useful in recognizing individuals. In Great Britain, the grass snake is the largest reptile, reaching up to 190 centimetres (6 ft 3 in) total length, though such large specimens are rare. Females are considerably larger than males, typically reaching a size of 90–110 centimetres (2 ft 11 in–3 ft 7 in) when fully grown. Males are approximately 20 centimetres (8 in) shorter and significantly smaller in girth. Weight is about 240 grams (8 oz). Since the colour of its collar is often pale yellow to white in the Balkans region, the name for this snake in Serbian/Croatian language is belouška/bjelouška, which means white eared snake.
This little critter was superb, and probably the coolest spider I’ve ever seen, including tarantulas I found in the Amazon Jungle. He was bright red, with fluffy white, feathered front legs, big black eyes, and I swear he was being all defensive and jumping at me to see me off, so perhaps a territorial spider?? Didn’t interfere too much as it was clearer not impressed with me, jumped quite fast and high,a nd for all I know could have been a poisonous variety. But it was fascinating, and I’d love to know the name and a bit more about this one.
UPDATE: my father informed me that this spider is Philaeus chrysops, a type of jumping spider, and the males have the red back. Here is what wiki says:
Normal body length is 7 to 12 mm, but 5 mm small males do occur. Unusual for spiders, the males are often bigger. The sexes differ extremely: males are very colorful with a glaringly red opisthosoma (chrysops means “golden eye” in Greek). The males have a dark browncephalothorax with two broad longitudinal white stripes behind the rear eyes. The abdomen is bright orange-red on the back and the sides, with a longitudinal black stripe in the center and black shoulders. The long, slender legs are dark with the patellae and most of the tibiae of the first two pairs bright orange-red. The cephalothorax of the female is similar to the male, but with much smaller white stripes. The back of her abdomen is largely covered with a very broad brown band with two narrow longitudinal white stripes and a few white marks near the sides. The remainder of the abdomen and the sides are orange, the legs light brown with dark brown rings.
The spider prefers open and warm areas.
Fluffy Beetles that looked more like Bumble Bees
UPDATE: My father told me that this is a type of Burnet Moth. Turns out the two in the photo are copulating, so now I’m some kind of pervert perhaps? Wiki says this about them:
The Zygaenidae moths are a family of Lepidoptera. The majority of zygaenids aretropical, but they are nevertheless quite well represented in temperate regions. There are about 1000 species. Various species are commonly known as Burnet or Forester moths, often qualified by the number of spots, although other families also have ‘foresters’. They are also sometimes called Smoky moths.
All 43 species of Australian zygaenids are commonly known as foresters and belong to the tribe Artonini of the subfamily Procridinae. The only non-endemic species in Australia is Palmartona catoxantha, a Southeast Asian pest species which is believed to be already present in Australia or likely to arrive soon
Zygaenid moths are typically day-flying with a slow fluttering flight, and with rather clubbed antennae. They generally have a metallic sheen and often prominent spots of red or yellow. The bright colours are a warning to predators that the moths are distasteful – they contain hydrogen cyanide (HCN) throughout all stages of their life-cycle. Unlike most insects with such toxins, they obtain glucosides from feeding on Birds-foot Trefoil (Lotus) so that they, themselves can use HCN as a defense. However, they are capable of making HCN themselves, and when in an environment poor in cyanide-producing plants, synthesize it themselves, . They are known to have mimicry complexes based on these toxins.
Larvae are stout and may be flattened. A fleshy extension of the thorax covers the head. Most feed on herbaceous plants, but there are some tree-feeders. Larvae in two subfamilies, Chalcosiinae and Zygaeninae, have cavities in which they store the cyanide, and can excrete it as defensive droplets.
A Black Beetle
UPDATE: My father informs me that this is likely a Dung Beetle, and wiki has some more info here:
Dung beetles are beetles that feed partly or exclusively on feces. All of these species belong to the superfamily Scarabaeoidea; most of them to the subfamilies Scarabaeinae and Aphodiinae of the family Scarabaeidae. This beetle can also be referred to as the scarab beetle. As most species of Scarabaeinae feed exclusively on feces, that subfamily is often dubbed true dung beetles. There are dung-feeding beetles which belong to other families, such as the Geotrupidae (the earth-boring dung beetle). The Scarabaeinae alone comprises more than 5,000 species.
Many dung beetles, known as rollers, are noted for rolling dung into round balls, which are used as a food source or brooding chambers. Other dung beetles, known as tunnelers, bury the dung wherever they find it. A third group, the dwellers, neither roll nor burrow: they simply live in manure. They are often attracted by the dung burrowing owls collect.
And a few pictures that our Oceans Ambassadors took with my camera at the Botanical Gardens in Tbilisi on Saturday:
These particular ones seem to be very common across all of Georgia during spring and summer.
Not sure what kind of wasp?
A Helping Hand