Readers’ wildlife photos: Stunning animal architecture

January 28, 2020 • 8:00 am

Nicky Bay is a superb photographer of small animals. I don’t think he’s technically a “reader” of this site, but I wanted to put his pictures under this category. Nicky has a Flickr site here, a Twitter page here, and a website, Macro Photography in Singapore, here. I’ve featured his photography three times on this website (here, here, and here).

He recently had a wonderful post called “5 Mysterious Structures From The World’s Smallest Architects,” but I’ll give the link below the fold. First I want you to guess what kind of creature made these structures. Nicky let me use the photos, which are copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without permission.

1.)  A log cabin made of twigs:

2.) A “jungle tent” made of leaves:

3.) Cage fortress!

4.)  Poop barricade!

5.) Web tower. 

Click on “read more” to see the answers:


Here’s the link to Nicky’s post about these structures. Read it to see some fascinating details and more photos. And yes, they’re all arthropods: four insects and a spider.

And the answers:

1.) Bagworm moth larva. 

2.) Another bagworm moth larva. 

3.) Arctiine moth larva. The larva makes the cage from its own hairs, reinforced with silk, and then suspends itself in the middle with silk. What a great way to protect itself!

4.) Maker unknown, almost certainly a caterpillar. As Nicky says,

I have only encountered this weird looking structure once. It appears to be a pupa wrapped with intricately woven layers of mesh, and finally surrounded by a barricade of black substance which I am assuming to be poop from the caterpillar during the larval stage. Does using a poop wall enhance its defense strategy? Does it emit a smell to turn predators off?? Nobody knows… yet!

5.) A spider of unidentified species (apparently a new species). Nicky explains:

Deep in a tiny island formed in the middle of the Amazonian River in Peru, a mysterious silk structure was discovered and had baffled scientists on what built it. It had a central tower with supporting silk lines, surrounded by an intricate silken fence. Entomologists believed it to be an egg sac of sorts. (At the site there’s a picture of the unhatched egg sac by Jeff Cremer.)

When I visited the island, I could only find the structures that had already been abandoned.

. . .In 2013, a group of scientists traveled to the Peruvian Amazon to unravel this mystery. They collected samples and allowed it to hatch, and it revealed a cute little spider!

Til date, the ID of the spider is still unknown as the juveniles do not exhibit any characteristic features of any specific family yet. If you are keen to be the one to decipher the biology of this mysterious spider, contact Rainforest Expeditions to arrange a trip to Collpa Island and keep me updated!! 🙂

11 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos: Stunning animal architecture

  1. He is amazing.
    The ‘poop barrier’ seems a repugnant defense, and it off-handedly reminds me of the ‘fecal shield’ used by tortoise beetle larvae. These herbivorous larvae carry a big wad of poo on the ends of their tails, and they use it to ‘thagmotize’ anything that bothers it.
    Shown here:
    Now, who knows what a thagmotizer is?

  2. Fantastic nature. Humans buzz busily through their own lives, while all around us are amazing little lives in the trees and grass. Makes sense to stop and pay attention. It’s like smelling the roses, except you don’t use your nose.

  3. Awesome. And I find it really cool that 4/5 are from the same basic family (moths/butterflies).

    Though I still like the Wombat’s stacked cube poop.

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