Two remarkable masters of deception seen on a trip to Malaysia a few years ago. The bird-dropping spider (Phrynarachne decipiens) was encountered beside a boardwalk at the wonderful Gunung Mulu National Park in Sarawak. I thank Wiki for the ID and behavioural notes, which say, in part: ” It crouches stationary on a leaf…and exhibits an elaborate combination of form and colour, the posture it adopts and the character of its web so as to simulate accurately a patch of bird’s execreta. The effect is to create the impression of a semi-solidified bird’s dropping with a white raised centre with black specks, a surrounding thinner, more liquid portion and even a drip effect on the lowest margin ending in a little knob. …the spider emits an odour not unlike bird excreta.” The disguise may work two ways: enabling the spider (in typical crab spider style) to quietly await an unwary victim and also perhaps fooling birds who might enjoy a spider snack. The butterfly was seen perched on a piece of rotting pineapple laid out for the enjoyment of denizens of the Butterfly Park in Kuala Lumpur. A dip into Wiki leaves me convinced it is Kallima paralekta, the Indian or Malayan Leafwing. With wings folded the underside mimics a dry leaf, with veins and even a mid-rib. The uppersides are colourful, but quite different for male and female. The rear of the wings even end in pointed narrow tail resembling a leaf petiole.
Deadly in disguise…. the spider Amyciaea albolmaculata has a body shape and colour scheme which mimics that of green tree ants (Oecophylla smaragdina) because it normally lives only near these ants and is claimed to feed exclusively on them.
This species is usually found hanging from a strand of silk where green tree ants — an ubiquitous species of Australia’s tropical savannas — are present.
Distinguishing features of this spider include the two black ‘false eyes’ on its abdomen and two pairs of large, black lateral eyes on the spider’s head. Amyciaea tends to hang on a strand of silk by its fourth pair of legs with the first two pairs extended sideways ready to capture any ants that come near it. Amyciaea and the theridiid(?), ‘Corinnomma’, have a very similar appearance, presumably because they are both attempting to mimic the same green tree-ant species. The most useful visible differences between these two spiders are that Amyciaea has large lateral eyes whereas Corinnomma’s eyes are all relatively small and there are only two black false eyes on the abdomen of Amyciaea but ‘Corinnomma’ has four of these.
Species: Amyciaea albomaculata (RM) Family: Thomisidae Body length: female: 7 mm male: 6 mm.
I took these photos at Kabulwarnamyo on the West Arnhem Plateau and found the information about the spider on the web (no pun intended) in the Find a Spider Guide to Spiders of South-East Queensland.