Summer Solstice

Today the exact moment of the Summer Solstice occured at 5.38 pm Summertime (4.38 pm GMT), but in practical terms and astronomical ones, this is only the beginning of summer in Wicklow. We have had a dry but cold spring and only in the last two weeks has it become properly and consistently warm. There is still Cuckoo-spit on many of the hedgerow plants, the strange protective covering of bubbles worn by froghopper nymphs. And there in the flowers there are Flower Crab Spiders hiding in plain sight, and some of them will not be alone, as in the case of this photo below:

A tiny male Flower Crab Spider perched on the bulbous abdomen of the much larger female, fortunately out of her reach. Mating is a delicate and dangerous procedure for him.
A tiny male Flower Crab Spider perched on the bulbous abdomen of the much larger female, fortunately out of her reach. Mating is a delicate and dangerous procedure for him.Hi is camouglaged to blend in with bird dung, of all things.

Also, keep an eye out for the remarkably bright green-coloured Cucumber Orb-weaver aka Green Orb-weaver (Araniella cucurbitina ) which makes a tiny web, usually in the middle of large leaves, curling their edges. It hangs upside down from this so its amazing colours are often not quite so obvious, but it has a red spot on the underside rear of its abdomen.

The best photo I have ever achieved of a Cucumber Orb-weaver, and this one is a male. You can tell this by the club-shaped palps (little arms) hanging below his head. Unusually for orb-weaver spiders, the male and female in this species are almost the exact same size. Very little is known about their behaviour.
The best photo I have ever achieved of a Cucumber Orb-weaver, and this one is a male. You can tell this by the club-shaped palps (little arms) hanging below his head. Unusually for orb-weaver spiders, the male and female in this species are almost the exact same size. Very little is known about their behaviour.

All you need to know about orb-weaver spiders is that they produce the classic spider webs, the really beautiful ones. The largest of the family you are likely to see will be the Garden Spider, which has been covered often on this blog. Anyhow, this time of year, which has always been associated with powerful magic, is indeed a magical time.

 

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