When it comes to bugs, spiders, and little things that fly into windows, there are 3 types of people. You can be:
1. fascinated by bugs and all things awesome
2. not too bothered by them but not too interested either
3. scared pants-less of them because they are the spawn of Satan
When I first came to Kenya I was a solid number two.
However, since arriving I’ve been becoming more and more engrossed when I see a new species, instantly whipping out the camera and tuning out the rest of the world.
If you’re a one, fantastic! My work is done. Go book your flight! If you think you’re more of a two or a three, you’re wrong. Don’t worry, though, I was wrong once too, and in the words of that guy from Coldplay: “I will tryyyyy to fix youuu!”
Above all other things that creeped me out before I came here, spiders were top of the list. Now, above all other things they’re the creatures I love the most. In Kenya almost everything you see is a bigger, brighter, and simply better version of what you see back home, if you come from Ireland or somewhere similarly dull like me. Spiders are the perfect example of this.
My favourite of all the incredible species I’ve seen so far has got to be the Red-legged Golden orb-web spider.
This is an adult female Red-legged Golden orb-web spider hanging in the center of her web. You can see the beautiful golden web they spin perfectly in the top left. Despite being fairly scary looking, they’re completely non-venomous and pretty immobile. The female hangs at the center of the web waiting for food to come to it.
The males are a little harder to identify since the species is sexually dimorphic in terms of size. In other words, the females are a lot bigger than the males, having a body mass about 1000 times that of the males.
As far as I have been able to tell, this is the male of the species. I’m assuming this due to the fact that it inhabits the same web as the female and its size in relation to it is much smaller. The internet is effectively useless in this case given that there are about 34,000 species of spiders out there.
There are so many other amazing things to see here, the orb spider is just one of them. It’s my personal favourite because of its gorgeous colouration. Also, its golden web looks stunning when it catches the sunlight.
The insect in the photo at the top of this post is some kind of long-horned wood-boring beetle belonging to the Cerambycidae family that I’ve had no luck in identifying further.
Here are a small collection other creepy crawlies I’ve seen in the short month I’ve been here.
Believe it or not, this is not a leaf but a very clever bug!
The spiders and the insects are just a small part of the experience in Shimoni. There are so many amazing animals, scenery, and most of all people that even if I haven’t managed to convince you that insects are the most awesome thing in the world, you’ll still be wrong, but you’ll enjoy being wrong.
Kevin Whelan – Forest Volunteer
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