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Citizens of the Deck

Visiting those who live on our deck.

TAGS: WHERNTO: erudite  techniq 

image of Citizens of the Deck

Nightly banquet

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A common sight on summer nights, several slugs and other creatures made a habit out of turning up at very precise times. On the lower left is one slug by the questionable name of 'BY' who came to eat each night within five minutes of 9:50 PM. The routine continued for almost two weeks. On the upper left is a slug who looks a lot like BY named 'BX'. BX was always more erratic and often skipped a day or two.

Leopard slug with earwigs

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This leopard slug was another of the many slugs who visited the deck regularly during the summer. Its favourite thing to eat was moist cat food which it occasionally had to share with a few earwigs.

Cave cricket nibbling on a cherry

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This cricket was a regular visitor to the deck for about a month. It often joined the slugs and was eager to sample just about anything they were eating except for greens.

Paper wasp nest

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A distinctive feature of paper wasp construction is that the cells of their nests are exposed. This nest was built on the underside of a wooden table. The wasps kept so much to themselves that by the time we noticed, there were already several adults tending to it. Since they were already well established with more young on the way we let them remain.

During the day the adults were usually occupied with collecting food for their larvae. Occasionally they would stop off at a flower for a snack or for a drink at the cats' water bowl.

Paper wasps are not known for being aggressive and these certainly were not. They didn't even mind me routinely poking my head under the table to see what they were up to.

Though they appeared to be content, their colony never grew beyond seven or eight adults at a time until they finally abandoned their home with the onset of the cold weather.

Cave cricket dining with a slug

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These two friends seem to be enjoying a communal meal.

Slender crab spider eating a piece of apple

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When I first saw this, I had no idea there were spiders (besides Bagheera kiplingi) who would eat fruit of any kind. After some research, I learned that many spiders do in fact take nectar from flowers and have been known to eat various fruits in captivity.

I sometimes placed bits of apple out to attract wasps so I could watch them, and in this case the result was most unexpected. The spider had chosen to feed on a "crumb" of apple discarded by one of the wasps an hour or two earlier. It had browned, but there was still plenty of juice left for the spider apparently. She spent nearly half an hour feeding, maneuvering the crumb deftly with her palps.

Eager to see if others of the same species would do similar, I tried to feed them apples, grapes, and some other fruit. Several did indeed take them. I've observed and photographed wolf spiders as well as grass spiders eating fruit too.

Banana slug contemplating the cuisine

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This banana slug is trying to determine the merits of this particular course, the underside of a blackberry leaf.

Male grass spider eating a piece of apple

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This handsome fellow regularly made appearances on the deck, perhaps due to the existence of several females that made homes there. He only got to enjoy his apple for a couple of minutes before a wasp found him out and stole it.

Spider with banana slug

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The spider probably came up for a drink but ended up making a new friend in the process. The slug, aside from being mildly put out by having a leg blocking one of its eye stalks, didn't appear to mind the spider at all.