22 Jul Designers of the micro world
Patterns and designs are very much an integral part of things in nature. Even the most ornate of designs or patterns have a sense of reason for their existence. Be it a perfectly aligned ‘V‘ pattern of the high flying birds or the elaborate embellishments of its nest by the Bowerbird or the gory dress up of an assassin bug with the husks of dead ants, each and every one of them has a powerful instinctive need and a purpose. High flying birds do so to conserve their energy for long duration flights. At any moment in time, a few of the birds in the group flap their wings and the rest just use the generated draft of the wind to glide along. While the male of the Bowerbird goes to great lengths in decorating its nest in order to entice its mate, the assassin bug on the other hand does what it does, to throw off the ants’ chemical receptors into thinking that it is one of their own, helping it to sit right among the colony of ants and continue feeding on them.
Look hard and you will find many such beautiful patterns, designs and their designers in the micro world, the world of the small and the tiny. These little artists leave no stone unturned to show off their talents. Observe a little deeper and you also notice that these guys ( like everything else in nature ) are synonymous with the three ‘R’s associated with the effectiveness of maintaining a sustainable green ecosystem. The materials they use are purely natural and are Reused and Recycled all the time. The embellishments are put out on a need basis and are not there without any reason, thus Reducing the unnecessary usage of resources.
There are innumerable such artists in the highly diverse world of the undergrowth. Here are a few of them.
This lovely orb-weaver spider uses the silk it generates to design a wonderful web and then adds its signature touch in the end. It is said that the added design is intended to attract its prey and also to camouflage the spider on its own web. When the web is dismantled, the silk used is swallowed up and fresh silk is generated to build a new web next time around. Absolutely no waste piling up, no recycling worries, truly green.
Here’s another wonderful spider, the debris orb-weaver, that embellishes its web using debris, stuff strewn around, like a little piece of stick, some dead insect husks and mud droppings. Sitting at the end of its arrangement, the spider becomes pretty much invisible.
Those spiders that build their homes instead of just webs, build them in a very minimal and ingenious way. Here’s a jumping spider that has used two leaves, one fallen over the other, to build its little home. It has glued the two leaves together using its silk. A very strong and effective way, as I personally saw it withstand powerful winds and rain !
The funnel-web spider uses fallen stalks and leaves to support its wonderfully designed web. It has a platform in the front, where the spider rests most of the time, waiting for its prey. When under threat, there is a built-in escape route, a funnel like opening, which takes the spider to the underside of the web, safe and away from harm.
Then, there are paper wasps, which mix the sap of nearby plants with their saliva, creating a viscous substance, which they then use to build their very intricate nests with cells for their eggs and growing larvae. The wasps vigorously guard their nests too.
Bag worms are masters at using things strewn around and turning them into beautiful housings for themselves, serving a dual role of protection and camouflage.
I can’t even figure out the things that the one below, has used to build its home. It seems like it just rolled over some stuff that were lying around and glued them together, albeit in a nice designer fashion, truly amazing indeed !
That was just a small peek into the world of these magnificent little masters, whose creations otherwise go quite unnoticed. There are many many more. Hope to see and document them too :-)