Death in the Garden but Life Goes On…

In September when the sun was shining (remember that day?) I went to check on the garden wildlife and managed to photograph a white Crab Spider eating a Honeybee on one of my Michaelmas daisies.  This alone was amazing to see but not as amazing as seeing a small Bumblebee land on the very same flower at the same time!

Crab Spider and Bee

The white crab spider & prey shares a flower with a passing bumblebee

You’d think that the bees would have given that flower a wide berth but oh no, they needed to feed so that’s exactly what they would do.


If you look closely you can just see her “group” of dark eyes

I managed a couple more photos of the Crab Spider as it held it’s prey in it’s venomous bite. These spiders don’t build webs but are instead hunters and ambushers.

Some species (like this Misumena vatia above) can even change their colour from white to yellow to match the colour of the flower they’re on. It obviously couldn’t turn pink… but still managed a hefty catch.

Crab Spider

Still hanging on – the meal is as big as she is!

Later, when she had dragged her prey away under the flowers, I noticed that NO bees went to that flower. Interesting. I wonder how they knew?

I find it fascinating to think that my garden is “home” to thousands of insects and spiders that patrol it’s plants, flowers and soil.  A lot of them probably don’t even go next-door, maybe don’t even go more than 20ft in the whole of their lives.


A female Field Grasshopper lays her eggs between the paving

This Field Grasshopper Chorthippus brunneus is a good example of that. I left an area of grass to grow high this year. I call it my wild meadow even though it’s only about 30ft by 20ft. There are a few wildflowers but it’s still predominately grass (wait until the Yellow Raffle I planted takes effect!).


Nearly finished? She was laying eggs for at least 2 hours…

Next to the “meadow” is a patio area (not very well looked after) and this September (same day as the Crab Spider above) I found this female Field Grasshopper laying her eggs in between the cracks of the paving.  I’ve never witnessed this before.  She will have dug down with her abdomen into the sand and laid her eggs using her ovipositor, and there they will stay until the weather warms up and the cycle of life starts again next Spring.

Life and death in an urban garden – hard to imagine that so much is going on under our very noses.  Still, even more reason to skip the fertilizers and weed killers for another year, leave a little area of garden untouched – and hopefully welcome even more dazzling wildlife in 2009!

19 thoughts on “Death in the Garden but Life Goes On…

  1. Superb photos! I’m hoping my messy garden (long grass, leaves in heaps, brambles…) will help the wildlife a bit – the RSPB reckon the recent fall in sparrow numbers may be related to lack of insect habitat, so here’s hoping we can both help them a bit.

  2. Wonderful captures Jane – especially the grasshopper 😀

    Yes, as we finish one year we should consider how we can help the wildlife for the next. I agree, small steps make all the difference. Eyes peeled too ;-D

  3. Hi Bramble. I’m sure it will help! I read the report on the sparrows – really interesting. We have had a pair of sparrows in the garden this year for the first time since we moved to our house. Lovely to see them. I might try to get a sparrow nesting box this year to encourage even more. Jane

  4. Hi Shirl. Thanks. I was surprised to see the grasshopper out in the open like that. Any bird could have come along and had her for dinner (however I did keep guard over her for a couple of hours!). I will be posting more about “wildlife gardening”. I’ve just joined a wildlife friendly garden scheme… more about that soon. Jane

  5. What a beautiful post Jane! My garden is the size of your small meadow, and no space for grass, but really, even little things help when attracting wildlife to your garden.

  6. Welcome back Jane (I trust you’re back now as you mentioned Jet lag on my site?!)
    Your words above are my sentiments exactly – a whole new world awaits discovery RIGHT UNDER OUR NOSES, should we care to really look and learn.
    Jealous of the size of your “meadow”! You may remember that our “Lower Paddock” is only 6′ by 6′ – and two years old now (almost) it teems with wee beasties in the summer!

  7. Hi Dragonstar. I’ve got an “ongoing” recording survey going on in my garden (and the rest of the village) so it will be great to see what arrives/disappears over the next few years. I’m the same with spiders. Big and black… no way, little and white … I can cope with! Jane

  8. Hi Africa. Thanks. My old garden was smaller than my “meadow” now. All paved (nightmare!). Now it takes me all my time to keep the ivy and brambles under control! (never happy!). Jane

  9. Hi TBR. Thanks for the parrot film… it gave me a good laugh! I wish people really looked under their noses… I’m sure they have a lot more than they realise in their gardens. I know I did once I started looking. This was the second year for my meadow and it really came into it’s own…. unfortunately I cut it a bit late, so I hope it’s ok next year. Jane

  10. How exciting to have captured the whole thing! Welcome back btw hope you feel all resfreshed and full of sun energy. Are you managing to catch up – I can’t and I’ve only been away for a few days!

  11. Feeling awful at the moment Paula…. really jet lagged. Keep going through phases of being ok then feeling rubbish! I won’t even mention the weather…. brerrrrr! The crab spider reminded me of the one you found earlier in the year… I had been looking for one in my garden ever since because I thought they were so fascinating! Jane

  12. Hi Jane,
    My name is Svetlana and I work for GlobalGiving UK. GlobalGiving UK is a newly launched online marketplace for donating to international development projects. We feature over 500 projects from over 70 countries that aim to raise funds for various development projects. Some projects focus on women and children, some focus on education, but our most popular projects are environmental projects. This holiday season we are trying to highlight the importance of bees. We have partnered with the Travel Foundation to help the world’s bee population. Albert Einstein said, if all the bees were to die out, mankind would follow only 4 years later. That’s a pretty scary thought that I bet most people do not know. We are featuring projects that help bee populations in Mexico, Jamaica, the Gambia and in other countries. Seeing how your blog addresses similar issues, I was hoping you would perhaps consider featuring our cause on it or maybe suggesting other social media outlets for us to use. Since we only recently launched this September, we are always exploring different social media avenues to pursue in getting the word out about the wonderful causes we support and try to fundraise for. If you would like to speak further about our Travel Foundation campaign or in general, I would be happy to do so.

    Many thanks for your time and hope to hear from you soon!

    Svetlana Gitman

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