Australia’s most loved crab – the Soldier Crab

Australian Soldier Crab (Mictyris Longicarpus)

soldier crab 255They feed on detritus, any small organisms, such as diatoms, gastropod eggs or nematodes that are found in the sand, leaving rounded pellets of discarded sand behind them. They start to  feed within fifteen minutes of emerging from their sand holes… feeding may last from one to two and a half hours,  then they aggregate into armies, with the largest at the front.

Soldier crabs are mainly seen at low tide before the crabs dig into the sand to wait till the next tide. Much of their time is spend buried in the sand and only emerging to the surface a few hours before low tide, some stay submerged for the entire tidal cycle.

The number of crabs which can emerge at a time is influenced by temperature, wind and rainfall, with the different sexes responding differently. For example, one day, nearly all the males emerge for the day, then the next day, there will be a mixture of male and female crabs.

Upon emergence, the crab performs ‘the most aerobic grooming performance’… ‘In less than a second the crab falls onto its back, to remove any sand, then flips upright again in a half a somersault.’

They live in sandy estuaries, beaches and intertidal mangroves, where massive groups of crabs seem to emerge from nowhere all at the same time.

By M.A.Loveday  (Lecturer and Guide on Wildlife/ Lover of Nature)

References Wikipedia & personal observations.

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The Golden Orb Weaver Spider (Nephila.sp)

 

This spider is one of the largest spiders in Australia, it is well known for its very large well engineered, perfectly designed, beautiful golden web.  Sometimes over a metre in length this web can be found between trees or shrubs.

The chemistry of the web is interesting … said to be flexible, yet, stronger than steel.

These unique spiders help keep the insect population under control and in a very environmentally friendly way. Bringing awareness to their useful resourcefulness is valuable. An example of this is, relocating an orb spider to a pest ridden citrus tree this  can be a gardener’s best friend. The spider has been known to keep pest numbers controlled, keeping the tree healthier, chemical free.

They are not known to be aggressive, however, if threatened they have been known to bite. Please don’t kill them, just relocate them.

The Golden Orb Weaver spider has a security system, to give protection from birds and will even be hospitable to smaller spiders, which in turn pay their accommodation by cleaning up any debris from the web.

One of the spiders predators are the wasp, who will pretend to be caught in the web, deceiving the Golden Orb spider; a very sad end to a most talented spider.

M.A.Loveday  (Lecturer and Guide on Wildlife. Lover of Nature)

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