Webnesday (50): Helpis Here!

While preparing for this post, I realized that it’s been (well, just a little) over a year since my last arachnid offering. I am very happy to be able to share another now. I have noticed that at least a half dozen of the leaves on one of our Hebe bushes in the garden are adorned with perfect, tent-like webs, and I’ve looked at them many times and wondered who was making them. Then, suddenly, four days ago, I found two of the occupants in action, reinforcing the webs from the inside, and (only very) occasionally emerging from one end or the other for an apparent look around and a check on the integrity of the outside layer. They have given me enough of a brief look to identify them as Helpis minitabunda, commonly known as bronze Aussie jumpers. The name is appropriate, since they are immigrants from Australia, and research has shown that they have been seen in New Zealand since about 1972. They spend nearly all of their time inside the protective webs, so I’m convinced that they are guarding eggs. I’ve not seen any (or any males either) out and about on other parts of the plant. Happy Webnesday!

About krikitarts

Welcome to Krikit Arts! I'm a veterinarian; photographer; finger-style guitarist, composer, instructor, and singer/songwriter; fisherman; and fly-tyer. Please enjoy--and please respect my full rights to all photos on this Website!
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16 Responses to Webnesday (50): Helpis Here!

  1. Mike Powell says:

    Wonderful shots, Gary, of a very cool-looking spider. There are no spiders to be seen where I live at this time of the year, though amazingly I spotted an Eastern Comma butterfly in flight yesterday on an unusually warm day reached over 60 degrees.

    • krikitarts says:

      It always concerns me when I see butterflies that have hatched so early in the year; I’m afraid the odds are sorely stacked against them that more cold will come before the spring really arrives. But maybe they can find adequate shelter somewhere when/if it does.

      • Mike Powell says:

        From what I read, Eastern Comma butterflies are like Mourning Cloak butterflies–both species overwinter as adults. If so, perhaps they will be able to return to their hibernation-like state when it gets cold again.

  2. Peter Klopp says:

    Very impressive photo essay on your interesting spider with its dense web design!

    • krikitarts says:

      Yes, they are interesting, but very elusive. Today I found a similar web on the leaf of a different plant in the garden, and I’ll be keeping a close eye on it. Here’s hoping!

  3. shoreacres says:

    I’ve seen webs similar to this, and I’ve always assumed the creator was on the outside. Perhaps, but perhaps not. Nice photos of the spider — and aren’t those webs pretty!

  4. Adrian Lewis says:

    Interesting stuff, Gary, and good pictures too. :)

  5. Although not an Australian species, I’ve seen several different species of spiders that do this or similar. Once when out with an entomologist, he opened up a curled leaf and we found a shamrock orb-weaver inside. Now I wonder what is inside the other rolled leaves I find but I don’t open to look.I think that you are probably correct about these webs concealing eggs.

    • krikitarts says:

      It’s always (slightly) tempting to open structures like this to see who might be inside, but they spend so much time building and guarding them that it seems like it would be rather a shame to destroy them, just for curiosity’s sake. If one has the luxury of time and patience, the proprietor will eventually emerge to take a sort of bow. That’s my hope, anyway!

      • I agree and decided a while ago to be of little or no disturbance to a subject’s well-being. While I would not project my morality on someone else, there are a lot of things entomologists and enthusiasts do in their study and enjoyment of insects that I would not do. Their lives are just as important as my curiosity, as you put it, or the need for a killer photograph. More actually. Each of them is an important part of the ecological balance of an environment. Us…not so much.

      • krikitarts says:

        Again, complete agreement. And the phrase “killer photograph” conjures up dark visions of those who would even consider dissection just to confirm a living being’s gender. Hopefully they reserve such measures for those that have left life (naturally) behind.

  6. Pingback: Webnesday (51): Helpis closer | krikitarts

  7. I’ve occasionally come across webbing of this kind on leaves but didn’t know the kind of spider that made it.

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