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Invertebrates are often overlooked in nature reserves with birds and mammals on top of the "must see" list. The Palmiet Nature Reserve hides a wealth of smaller creatures that each have their own fascinating life cycles and habitats. From freshwater crabs to carnivorous Cocktail ants the Palmiet offers many secret worlds for nature lovers to explore.

The Bark spider is a mostly nocturnal specie that can grow to 22mm. They are mottled grey to brown in colour. Thorn like projections on their abdomens help to camouflage them as tree bark. Bark spiders build large orb shaped webs with close spirals between trees. They wait in the centre of the web and immediately retrieve any trapped prey to the centre where they immobilise it before the web is damaged. At first light the web is removed by the spider to prevent birds like drongos from eating the spider or stealing the web for nesting material.One main anchor strand is left for rebuilding the web the following evening.  

Antlion: The larva of this insect is brownish in colour, has sickle shaped jaws and is roughly 1cm in length. The larval stage of the life cycle takes between one and three years to complete. The conical pits up to 30mm in diameter and 25mm deep are constructed in fine sand under shelter, usually a small rock overhang. The larva waits at the bottem of the pit for ground dwelling insects to fall in. Adult Antlions resemble dragonflies but are less brightly coloured and have prominent club shaped antenna. There are roughly 130 species of antlion in South Africa though not all of their larva dig the characteristic conical shaped pit.




Bark Spider web . Photo Clive Read March 2003

 A Barkspider rests up during the day. Even birds cannot detect him. Photo Clive Read April 2003T

Home of the Antlion Photo Clive Read March 2003

This colourful Armour plated grasshopper Phymateus viridipes is just one of the smaller hidden treasures of the Palmiet

Photo Patricia Jackson March  2003
Unidentified Spider Photo Clive Read April 2003
Palmiet Nature Reserve
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12 Jan 2005