Last weekend, many people from OIST, myself included, traveled to the Hiji Falls in northern Okinawa. Before heading along the trail to the waterfall, I encountered this sign:
Despite a rainy morning, there was in fact an abundance of nature along the trail, perhaps energized by the afternoon sun. I unfortunately was not able to capture many in-focus shots of the various insects and other arthropods I encountered, but I did manage to get some photos of some interesting critters.
I was thrilled to find an ant-mimic spider right at the beginning of the hike. Here it is in stunning and blurry detail:
Like most ant mimics, this one behaved like an ant and skittishly moved its front two legs like antennae, leading a couple of fellow travelers to disbelieve me about its true nature. The light color of the anterior of the abdomen likely serves to mimic the petiole (waist) and gaster (“abdomen” in an ant) that are characteristic of ants. Another ant mimic presented itself on the black railing near the waterfall, this one being much smaller:
Again, you can see a white band on the abdomen that gives the anterior end the appearance of an ant’s petiole. Pretty neat stuff!
My best picture from the trip was this small mantis:
The little guy was quite the entertainer, leaping at the camera as I tried to take pictures of it. One observer suggested that it might be seeing itself in the reflection of the lens, and I think this is a plausible explanation for the behavior.
I’m sure you’ll be thinking, “Sure, we’ve got mimics, but where are the ants?!?!?”. I didn’t manage to find too many ants, only a few species, but this picture turned out all right, considering the minuteness of the individuals:
To my shame, I am not able to identify the genus of these little guys, and have to stick with the subfamily: Myrmicinae. I thought maybe they were Pheidole, but the petiole seems too rounded. In any case, they were slow enough for me to take this shot!
Searching for insects along the Hiji River has made me even more excited for next week’s trip to Xishuangbanna. I await the journey with anticipation!