17 February, 2011
Parasites and Carnivores
Regarding parasites, many of the gum trees around the farm where I currently live have large woody mistletoe plants hanging from their branches (below left) which are just coming into flower. Australia has 10 genera and 65 species of mistletoe and I think this one (above) is Amyema pendulum. There are several large dams on the farm (below right) with beaches kept clear buy the fluctuating water levels, perfect for a swim although the water is still a bit murky following the floods and one day we found a dead sheep floating in the water. Not to worry he was fresh.
As for carnivores, growing in the open patches of sand that are kept damp by seeping ground water there are tiny Pimpernel sun-dew Drosera glanduligera (bellow) plants only a few inches across. If you stand still for only a moment you end up covered in biting ants as I found taking these photos. The ants seem to be their main food, the leaf curling up around them as they struggles to get free of the sticky hairs.
Whilst on the subject of carnivores I thought it would be fitting to include a gallery of some of our eight legged house mates. The most impressive of which was the huntsman spider top that was a good five inches across and was gingerly extricated from the house with a squeeze mop. As well as looking around at the ground for snakes you have to look up as well when walking through the bush to avoid getting an orb spider (second down) across you face. (third and fourth down) A hairy chap we found living on the BBQ, didn't seem too happy to be put in a glass. The hermit crab of the spider world, many of the webs in the bush have a curled up gum leaf hanging in the middle of them with a tiny spider tucked inside.