Readers’ wildlife photos

I importune you again to send your good wildlife photos, as I depend on the skill and goodwill of readers to keep this feature going.

Today’s lovely photos come from Tony Eales of Queensland, and he’s given his series a title (in bold at the top).

Here’s looking at you.

Here’s a series of photos of aware animals looking right down the lens.

Stick Mantis (Archimantis latistyla). This is kind of a cheat since mantises have what is known as a pseudo-pupil that, like the Mona Lisa, makes the eyes seem to follow you around the room. It’s actually an illusion made by the way light refracts in the compound eyes.

A small unknown fly. I was lying in the leaf litter looking for small spiders when this little fly landed and stared straight at me; and I decided to take the shot.

More illusionary eyes. These are eye spots on the wings of the large-eyed box owlet moth (Grammodes ocellata), presumably to deter predators.

The Grey Huntsman (Isopeda vasta) is a very large spider that one often finds peeling away eucalyptus bark. They are very sedate (until they aren’t) making close up portraits very easy as long as you hold the piece of bark steady and are willing to risk one suddenly running up your sleeve.

One of my favourite animals of all are ant-mimicking spiders and some of the best are jumping spiders. This is one of the common ones, a polyrhachis ant mimic (Myrmarachne luctuosa). This one is a large gravid female I found while looking for peacock spiders. I could fill this whole post with jumping spiders; they are very aware of their surroundings and find camera lenses extremely intriguing, possibly seeing their reflection in the glass.

Another animal that is always very aware of you are bull ants, which will watch you closely. This one is known as a jumping jack (Myrmecia nigrocincta) but they display this terrifying behaviour only if you disturb the nest. Otherwise they just watch you warily.

Another common species is the small variable lynx spider (Oxyopes variabilis). These too can jump wildly to get away from you, but if you’re careful you can catch their typical ambush pose, seen here.

A very handsome lion (Panthera leo) at Melbourne Zoo. I love the calm disdainful look on its face.

Little red flying-foxes (Pteropus scapulatus). I just love that these animals are happy to live in cities and we get to see and hear these amazing beasts nightly.

A beautiful Spectacular Crab Spider (Thomisus spectabilis). These are large for a crab spider, usually hiding flowers waiting for visiting insects, I’ve seen them take prey many times their size, including praying mantis and butterflies.


  1. rickflick
    Posted September 30, 2020 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Fantastic shots. Why, I ask myself, would Grey Huntsman need 8 eyes and the crab spider need 6? Well, I guess to provide a wider view, but all vertebrates get by with just two. Maybe there is some specialization of function across the many eyes. Some close focus and some far?

    Posted September 30, 2020 at 8:16 am | Permalink

     Hi. I’m not a great photographer and I’m not sure if I’m sending these properly but I’m going to try.

    These are recent photos from my patio in suburban New Jersey. Cookie and Luna are my cats and they enjoy the show, especially the squirrels and chipmunks! (The cats are not technically wildlife and are for your enjoyment, because I know you’re a cat lover too.)

    I understand if you don’t use these. They are quite inferior to the other photos your readers send.


    Maria Walsh


    • Posted September 30, 2020 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      You should email Jerry with them. These are spectacular 😍& yet again make me feel totally inadequate as a ‘photographer’ if I could ever. Call myself that 😩

  3. Posted September 30, 2020 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    Thank you! Amazing photos.

  4. C.
    Posted September 30, 2020 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Imagine the face of the crab spider being the last thing you see before your death…

  5. boudiccadylis
    Posted September 30, 2020 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Living in the northern hemisphere as I do we have ,in my opinion, less diversity in spider life. Not a lifelong interest but Ive had for about40yeats. Anyway it is my understanding that Australia has some very big and very poisonous spiders which frequent homes.I guess I’m asking is this the case and as you seem to find such interesting critters in the leaf mold don’t you feel threatened. Is it harmful for the grey hints man to run up your sleeve or just unsettling.
    Great pictures.

    • tjeales
      Posted September 30, 2020 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

      The spiders that you are referring to are the Sydney Funnelweb Spiders Atrax robustus which are up to 5cm long not counting the legs and can turn up inside houses or swimming pool filter boxes in the suburbs of Sydney and surrounding towns. I have encountered some of the related Hadronyche spp. which don’t occur around dense human habitation.
      Huntsmans do not have medically significant venom and are reluctant in most circumstances to bite but have been known to when sppoked or guarding eggs. I imaging with fangs that big that it wouldn’t tickle.

  6. Posted September 30, 2020 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    You missed a chance to point out the number of chromosomes in the Jack-Jumper Ant. Like all ants, bees and wasps they are haplo-diploid. The males are haploid and have … wait for it … one chromosome. Just one (females, being diploid, have a pair of chromosomes). The proper reaction to which is “holy shit!”

    • tjeales
      Posted September 30, 2020 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

      Wow I did not know that. Holy shit

  7. Charles A Sawicki
    Posted September 30, 2020 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Love the photos, particularly the flying foxes.

  8. Posted September 30, 2020 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Tony, these are all spectacular! Thanks.

  9. Posted October 1, 2020 at 1:04 am | Permalink

    Fantastic pics. I remember being terrified by hunstmans growing up in Melbourne.
    On a visit back there a few years ago I encountered the flying foxes near the Arts Center downtown in the park.
    Amazing. They look like they should be landing on an aircraft carrier they’re so big and savage.
    D.A., NYC

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