The LADYBUG BIRD BEETLE SPIDER....Is it a bird? Is it a beetle? Is it a ladybird? No, No, and No, it is a spider.
This is the ladybird mimic spider that belongs to the genus Paraplectana (as I understand that it is not identified to species level yet....yes?), and it is a spider in the orb-weaver family.
So why does it choose to mimic a ladybird? Well, few people know that ladybirds possess noxious chemicals, and can emit a lingering, nasty odour when disturbed or predated. It really is obvious, as anything in nature that has bright colours is a warning to predators (unless, its a clever mimic like this). Apparently the ladybirds with the brighter and more distinct appear to taste the most rancid, leading birds to leaving them alone. Wheres this cheeky, harmless, nutritious and good tasting spider lives to spin a web another day.
Just a word on photographing these:
They are extremely hard to find, with specific locations. So many, many thanks to Sasha and Marco and initially Karolina for your help and expertise. Thank you for sharing.
They are tiny. The size of my pinkie finger nail. And nocturnal.
They are highly reflective, but also need a lot of light at high magnification; so a real challenge. And of course they are wild animals, that move just when you have everything set up. These were taken at c.x2 macro magnification, on a tripod, with two off camera flashes and large diffusers that I had to carry in about 28degrees heat. Boo hoo...I know...these (and some other) photos were taken over a series of about 4 nights over a 2 week period and yielded about 10 usable pictures.
This last picture is actually upside down, as it was resting under a leaf, but I think it looks better this way up.