Posts written by philsirvid

A Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing

A couple of colleagues pointed out there was something a little odd about the spider I thought was a juvenile redback spider in Scott Ogilvie’s post. This spider, named Fabergé – as in Fabergé egg, for her ovoid shape and pretty pattern-  is nothing of the kind despite my initial impressions. I got so carried… Read more »

Lethiferous Latrodectus – part 1

Katipo spider

One of my previous posts discussed a recent study on New Zealand’s only endemic spider regarded as dangerous to people, the katipo. I thought readers might be interested to learn a little more about what’s behind the bad reputation of katipo and its’ close relatives. As I said then, katipo belongs to the genus Latrodectus,… Read more »

Latrodectus Love Bites

Latrodectus valentini (Valentine's widow spider)

  In honour of Valentine’s Day this post will look at the wonderful world of courtship in the spider genus Latrodectus, more commonly known as the widow spiders. Readers of my previous post will recall this genus includes species such as the American black widow (Latrodectus mactans), the Australian redback (L. hasseltii) and the New… Read more »

Skin Deep Differences Don’t Matter In Katipo

katipo_350

Skin Deep Differences Don’t Matter in Katipo Having spent my last two postings dealing with butterflies and moths, it’s time to move on to the animals I love the most – spiders! The subject of this posting is the katipo spider (Latrodectus katipo), New Zealand’s only endemic spider known to be dangerous to humans. Katipo… Read more »

A Tiger with Crimson Wings

Cinnabar moth from Te Papa’s  ‘Blood Earth Fire’ exhibition (©Te Papa).

A Tiger with Crimson Wings  This post is inspired by Smiv’s reminiscences about cinnabar moth caterpillars when commenting on my previous blog entry: http://blog.tepapa.govt.nz/2009/01/26/a-menu-for-monarchs/#comments Also, as adult cinnabar moths are on the wing this time of year in New Zealand summer and sightings always generate a number of calls to Te Papa’s entomology department, I… Read more »

A Menu for Monarchs

sharell-monarch-cat2

  In the summer months I get plenty of phone calls and emails from monarch butterfly fanciers, all with a common problem: “My swan plants are almost stripped bare yet I have so many monarch butterfly caterpillars I really don’t know what to do. Is there anything else I can feed the caterpillars on?” This… Read more »